“My ambition is to be able to raise the most awareness in the larger American society about immigrants and refugees especially those from the Middle East. There is a lot of misinformation and false facts about these communities among many US communities, politicians and officials. I want to use my voice to bring about positive relations, change, and harmony in this area.”
BNYAD SHAREF, 21 years old, is an activist who advocates for refugee and immigrant rights and for a more harmonious, peaceful, and prosperous world free of discrimination and injustice. He has been involved in activism since he and his family were affected by the travel ban while en route to the U.S. with Special Immigrant Visas that were issued to them as a result of his father’s work as a translator for the U.S. government in Iraq. After being sent back to Iraq, they were able to mobilize family, friends, media and elected officials in the U.S., ultimately resulting in an exception being granted to allow them to enter the U.S. They moved to Tennessee in early 2017 where they were warmly greeted by hundreds at the Nashville airport. Bnyad is very passionate and motivated to speak about immigrant and refugee issues, having lived through it and understanding the pain and journey involved. He has already shared his story in several churches, synagogues, mosques, community centers and events. Bnyad has also been active in refugee rights advocacy through the Church World Service, and is currently working for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.