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Logan StoryCorps: Fostering friendship with community connection

Randy Williams  and Trhas Tafere stand side-by-side looking into the camera. Randy is turned slightly toward Trhas.  She has long straight gray hair, parted in the center.  Her dark eyebrows have a well-defined arch over brown eyes and she smiles happily.  She wears an off-white blouse with a covered button placket, and a navy colored bib topped jumper.  Trhas has black hair pulled to the back and wears small brown earrings. She has brown eyes  and looks slightly upward as she smiles.  She wears a blue tee shirt and blue jacket with the Bear River Health Department logo on the upper left  chest.
Randy Williams and Trhas Tafere at their StoryCorps appointment May 8th in Logan, Utah.

NICK PORATH: Trhas and Randy sat down in the StoryCorps booth to reflect on their work in the community. But they also ended up reflecting on their friendship.

RANDY WILLIAMS: When I was five, and my sister was a year, my parents got divorced. And we moved from a little town in Utah, to Las Vegas, Nevada. And at the time, that seemed like probably a really trauma-filled thing, and it definitely was. But the support and the growing up experiences I had there really informed who I am now. What about you? How did we get in this fits together?

TRHAS TAFERE: Long story. Coming from a country or a region, I would say -- East Africa -- that is hit by consequent, drought and famine and war displacement. For me, it's like, the situation that I'm in, the table that we're sitting in is like time to be on the other side of like, not always receiving help, assistance, but also like giving back to our community. So that's how we get into this. We both are serving in the board of Cache Refugee and Immigrant Connection. And we also do a lot of community work together. So I think that childhood experience of poverty, living in poverty, but really hard working and really loving and caring, always supporting others. I think that's how we connected in this work.

RANDY WILLIAMS: I think that's so too. Well, do you mind sharing a little bit more about moving from Eritrea, to finding yourself in Logan, Utah many years later?

TRHAS TAFERE: Yeah, so I was born in Eritrea, my parents are from Ethiopia. But when I was born, Eritrea was part of Ethiopia. We had to leave Eritrea after the war in 2001. And then we moved to Ethiopia, which for me was a different new country. Although my parents are from Ethiopia, I didn't speak the language. Because we speak Tigrinya in Eritrea. It's like you're crossing another country. So I was kind of a refugee. But I don't feel that way. Because you will live with people who look like you, you might be finding people who speak your language, we eat the same food. So it wasn't a big adjustment for me, except for that language. I was also a college student when I was displaced. I get to go to another better university. So for no reason I couldn't compare my experiences with the other refugee communities we have here. I was more fortunate. And then after I live for about 10 years in Ethiopia, I went to college there, I start working as a social worker. My husband, we met in orphanage volunteering. And then because he's from here, we decided to move here. So that's how the refugee experience is more close to me.

RANDY WILLIAMS: You know, it's interesting, you and I we're both girls from the desert. I grew up in Las Vegas, I grew up in poverty as well. The closer and the longer we know each other -- a ll of us in this world have a lot of differences. But we also have so many similarities. And the privilege of life is getting close up to someone to know what those similarities are. I feel that way with you. This is so weird. I have been thinking about this for like, 24 hours. I know that there was a time I didn't know you. I can't even remember the first time we met like, because it just seems like it was always a natural friendship.

TRHAS TAFERE:I remember feeling like I know you from somewhere before that.

RANDY WILLIAMS: Me too. Yeah. That's how I feel too.

TRHAS TAFERE: Yeah, we'd get connected and you were like super supportive. understanding, accepting, like, empowering me to be actively engaging. So that's what I remember.

RANDY WILLIAMS: I'm a little nervous about being interviewed, which just seems ridiculous since I've interviewed literally hundreds of people. But if it were going to be Trhas, if it were going to be you know, a person that you recognize as someone that's going to put up with any of your weirdnesses or insecurities, someone you can just so trust and be yourself with. But also, if you want to be a little bit more passionate, less passionate, you can just be there with them.

TRHAS TAFERE: I feel the same way. I mean, I was nervous but it just was Randy just talking to Randy. Like the first person that comes to my mind is you, so I'll text you whether you have the answer or not you at least you'll send me somewhere that I can get the answer and I love that and I feel like I can ask you anything personal I can share anything with you.

Nicholas Porath is a Logan native and music lover. Having graduated from USU with a degree in broadcast journalism, it was while studying journalism that he found his niche and newfound love for radio. He first started out as an intern behind the scenes and eventually made his way to the production and control rooms where he worked as a fill-in host, as well as producer for numerous UPR programs including <i>Cropping Up, Access Utah, Behind the Headlines</i> and more. In 2023 he took on a new hurdle as UPR’s new Radio Broadcast Engineer. He still works as a programming producer and is a member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers.
Check out our past StoryCorps episodes.