Sponsoring Refugees

John Dunlap, Interviewed by Patricia Norman, November 23, 2015
Location of Interview: Richfield Springs, New York

John Dunlap was born in New Rochelle, New York in 1940. His dyslexia had a major impact on his education, and with the help of teachers he graduated from the Taft School and attended Johns Hopkins University. When the Vietnam War began, he joined the Air Force and became an officer. After serving for nearly five years, Dunlap came home to the United States but was unhappy with civilian life. He taught English in Laos and Indonesia before moving to Cooperstown, NY. In this story, he talks about how he and his wife Karen began sponsoring refugee families at their home in Cooperstown.  
JD: We agreed to sponsor some refugees from Laos and since I had lived in Laos and knew the native peoples there, not their language, but I knew them, they came to live with me. There were five kids and the mom. The father had been killed in the war. Eventually, they made some contacts with Hmong. Did I tell you they were Hmong? Well it’s a group of mountain people in Laos. They located their leader, the chief, if you will, in the United States and then they moved out there. They have done very well. There were five kids, the mom died. All those kids are now U.S. citizens and have been for some years now. They got married and I lost contact with them. It happens all the time.
PN: How does the church help refugees in Cooperstown?
JD: Well, they help them because they sponsor them. They sponsor them and the reason they got involved—well I think the reason that they got in on it, because I was kind of on a bandwagon for bringing some over [laughing]. I was willing to house them and they were very supportive, extremely supportive. I should tell you that it’s not easy being a sponsor of refugees. We know that, because we have done it and I’m 75 now, so probably I should have given up this kind of thing, but I guess I can’t really.
Click here to listen to the full interview or to read the transcript.