top of page

JaxTHRIVE Journeys


A community lecture series featuring speakers from many of our refugees' countries. For each program, we explore the food, culture, and politics of a particular geography. Attendees leave with a greater understanding of the places that many of our students call home.

Lecture topics

The War in Ukraine

On October 16th, we were thrilled to focus our most recent JaxTHRIVE Journeys presentation on the situation unfolding in Ukraine. We featured 5 special physician Ukrainian guests who were visiting Jacksonville for the week on a physician organ transplant exchange program with GlobalJAX. Each speaker shared a bit about their family, culture, work, the war with Russia and their hopes for the future.  It is truly amazing that these physicians have been conducting complex transplant surgeries while missiles are passing by their hospital operating room windows and exploding within earshot! They have also been forced to move all of their patients to their hospital basements many times to take shelter during missile strikes from Russia.


I was happy to see that each of our guests was still able to laugh and have fun despite that their country was being impacted so tremendously by the war. These men are incredibly brave and selfless, all willing to give up their lives to save their country. It was truly a memorable and impactful evening that I will never forget!  By Alexis Magnano

Building Bridges in Iraq

JaxTHRIVE Journeys Teen Series

Getting to Know High School Student Leaders from Iraq

CB034E3F-5EA1-42EC-9986-AF8C8A84CD83Time for an adventure (1).jpeg

On August 8th, during our last week of summer, we partnered with GlobalJAX to launch our 4th JaxTHRIVE Journeys program with a focus on building bridges with teens from Iraq.  We had a unique opportunity to meet 15 high school student leaders who were selected, through a highly competitive program, to visit Jacksonville on an exchange program.  We started off the day by sharing what teens in Iraq and the in U.S. like to do for fun in their free time. It turns out that we all love to hang out with friends and go to the beach, even though there is no beach in Iraq! Then, we discussed bigger global issues such as how each country managed the COVID-19 pandemic and how global warming is impacting both Iraq and the U.S. We then learned how these talented teens are designing smart programs to combat global warming in their local communities and prepare for the future. We were incredibly impressed by this group of students and plan to keep in touch in the future!


The Crisis in Afghanistan

With so many of our students coming to us from Afghanistan, we decided to host a  JaxTHRIVE Journeys presentation focused on the 2021 crisis in Afghanistan. We hosted four expert speakers who each shared a bit about their background and experience in Afghanistan. Tara Kipfer, a Marine Corps Subject Matter Expert in Middle Eastern Affairs, opened the presentation sharing insights from her 20 years of experience working with the military in Afghanistan. Saidajan, an Afghan Fighter Pilot, then walked us through Afghan history and culture and shared his tragic story about how he abruptly left Afghanistan when the country fell to the Taliban last August 2021. Mohammad was the next speaker. He was responsible for securing the Kabul Airport, especially their many planes.  Once the Taliban overran the airport, and complete chaos ensued, Mohammad narrowly escaped by jumping into Saidajan’s plane. Mohammad expressed his sincere gratitude to all the Americans who have helped make his resettlement in Jacksonville such a positive experience. Our final speaker was Kaihan, an Afghan Black Hawk Helicopter Pilot and a high-ranking Military General, discussed his background and experience and shared insights about how and why Afghanistan fell to the Taliban so rapidly in 2021. We all sampled a variety of food and teas from Afghanistan and had an opportunity to pose questions to our 4 speakers.

Image 7-12-22 at 1.32 PM.jpeg

The Lost Boys of Sudan

The second lecture brought together a variety of speakers, each adding a unique element. Opening with JaxTHRIVE founder and president, Chase Magnano, he presented an overview of the exodus to establish an understanding before introducing the speakers. Anthony Akech gave a harrowing account of his journey with the Lost Boys, sharing stories of loss, fear, and uncertainty. Nhial Kou who, similar to Anthony, was forced to leave his childhood home due to the violence from the civil war. Finally, Sharon Svihel, known by her Sudanese friends as Mamma Chol for adopting one of the Lost Boys, spoke to her history with the Sudanese in Jacksonville. After hearing from all speakers, the participants left with a greater appreciation for and understanding of The Lost Boys of Sudan 




The first JaxTHRIVE Journeys invited Syrian native and humanitarian, Dr. Yazan Khatib, to share his experiences, thoughts, and knowledge. First exploring the history, Dr. Khatib constructed a context to allow all members a greater understanding of the events that led to Syria's current situation. Through his personal anecdotes and first hand experience, he was able to leave a great impact on JaxTHRIVE members.

bottom of page