World Refugee Day in Washington, D.C.

Respect and Admiration. These are not words typically associated with the plight of refugees. But they were used by Angelina Jolie, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador, Ann Curry, NBC journalist and news anchor, and authors Khaled Hosseini (The Kite Runner) and Greg Mortenson (Three Cups of Tea), when they shared stories about the incredible inspiration and determination of refugees – real people with real needs – the theme of this year’s World Refugee Day.

Angelina Jolie congratulates a winner of her poster contest at the World Refugee Day event at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C.Angelina Jolie congratulates a winner of her poster contest at the World Refugee Day event in Washington, D.C.

Book Wish was honored with an invitation to attend Washington, D.C.’s World Refugee Day event on June 18, hosted by USA for UNHCR. Education was another consistent message. Refugees want an education. Darfuri students at the "Obama School" in a refugee camp in eastern Chad waved to the audience via a live video feed. A 13-year-old boy was asked what he wants – his answer: "to go to secondary school." In a panel discussion moderated by Curry, she asked the esteemed authors their views of the theory that when you educate a women you educate a community. Both agreed, with Hosseini saying that unless Afghan women are educated, the country will fail.

The event, which featured the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, was a source of personal inspiration for me. Our reading relief mission is a direct way to support the refugees' educational dreams – the 13-year-old from Obama School will need secondary school textbooks if he is ever to have a secondary school education.