Asian American Stories: Afghan Refugees Find Hope in Houston

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Wednesday, November 3, 2021
7 p.m. Moderated discussion
7:45 p.m. Questions and answers from the public

This program takes place in person at the Asia Society Texas Center.

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Following the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Taliban regaining control over the country, tens of thousands of Afghans who assisted American forces during the 20 Years War are now arriving in the United States in as refugees. Cities that host them include Houston, which is a hub for refugees who have been granted the Special Immigration Visa (SIV) to work with the United States in Afghanistan. The sudden influx means resettlement agencies have rushed to secure housing, education and more for the new arrivals. Members of the local community are also among those mobilizing to welcome and integrate their new neighbors to help them rebuild a new life in Houston.

Join Asia Society Texas for a program on how local resettlement agencies are providing much needed support to a new wave of Afghan refugees, and hear stories about the strength and resilience of the Afghan people that began in the United States there. has a few years and the life they built in Houston.


About the speakers

Ali al-Soudani was born and raised in Missan, Iraq, and was relocated to Houston, Texas, as a refugee by Interfaith Ministries in Greater Houston in April 2009. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University from Basrah, Iraq. In 2003 he started working with British and coalition forces as the chief translator in his hometown. Meanwhile, Iraqi militias and nationalist groups began to persecute middle-class individuals who were helping coalition forces, and Ali had to leave Iraq to travel to Jordan.

Ali joined IM as a Reception and Placement Social Worker in June 2009 and in May 2010 he was promoted to Director of Refugee Services where he served for seven years. Currently, Ali is responsible for the chief programs of interfaith ministries. He oversees all of IM’s programs, including Refugee Services, Meals on Wheels, Interfaith Relations and Community Partnerships, and Volunteer Houston.

Before joining IM, he was Senior Program Coordinator with “People In Need”, a non-governmental organization based in the Czech Republic. He became a certified capacity building trainer with the Czech Fundraising Center and administered several medical and capacity building projects in Iraq for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the United Nations. Democracy Fund (UNDEF).

Sultan Azizis a U.S. national with over thirty years of experience in leadership, development, the security sector, rule of law, public administration reform and gender inclusion, including relocation of refugees in Pakistan, Myanmar, Cambodia and Malaysia. Sultan has held senior positions at the UN and most recently worked as a senior advisor to UNDP on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He worked for the Ministry of Agriculture of Afghanistan as a senior advisor to the minister. He worked in the Afghan Interior Ministry as an advisor to the Deputy Minister for Policy and Strategy. Sultan has been involved in development work for much of his career, which has included leading the consolidated UN effort “Preliminary Needs Assessment for Afghanistan” for the Tokyo International Conference in 2002. He also designed and managed the disarmament and reintegration program from 2002 to 2004. Sultan is currently supporting the efforts of interfaith ministries in the resettlement of Afghan refugees. Sultan holds a BA in Political Science from Portland State University and an MA in Political Economy from Bowling Green State University, Ohio.

Moderator information will be announced.


Asia Society welcomes today’s leading voices, providing commentary on current events, society and culture. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Asia Society.


Asia Society Texas Business & Policy Programs, endowed by

Huffington Foundation

Asia Society Texas business and political programs are presented by Bank of America, Muffet Blake, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and United Airlines. Major support comes from Nancy C. Allen, Chinhui Juhn and Eddie Allen, Nancy Pollok Guinee and Mary Lawrence Porter, as well as the Brown Foundation, Inc. and the Houston Endowment. Additional funding is provided by the Friends of Asia Society Texas Center, a dedicated group of individuals and organizations committed to providing the best in public programming.

Business and Policy Presentation Sponsors


About Asia Society Texas

Asia Society Texas believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As an educational institution, we advance cultural exchange by celebrating Asia’s vibrant diversity, inspiring empathy and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community – trusting in the power of art, dialogue and ideas. to fight prejudices and build a more inclusive society.



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