Grover the Muppet says refugees are ‘just like us’ [video]

Grover — an excitable, furry, little blue monster — is drawing attention to a group of people facing big challenges: the world’s 21 million refugees.

True, Grover is just a puppet. But he is a much-loved star of the American television show Sesame Street, and in this timely video he is helping families around the world better understand who the refugees are.

Sesame Street was created to help children learn their ABCs and numbers before starting school. Over the years, the show’s cast of “Muppets” soared to fame with laugh-filled skits that tackle problems faced by kids everywhere, from disabilities to bullying to the loss of a parent.

In advance of a summit on refugees that President Obama held September 20 in New York, while world leaders gather for the 71st Session of the U.N. General Assembly, Grover sat down to talk about refugees with Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken.

In the public service video of the diplomat and puppet’s conversation, Grover at first appears confused: He thinks Blinken is talking about “referees” on an athletic field. No, Blinken says, he means those who had to leave their home because life in their countries was not safe.

“I can’t imagine leaving all my friends and my favorite things behind,” says the Muppet.

“Well, Grover, sadly, refugees have to leave everything behind,” says Blinken. “All kinds of people are refugees — moms and dads, children,” as well as teachers, doctors and others. “They are just like you and me.”

“Oh, like my friends on Sesame Street!” Grover exclaims. “We are all different in some ways, but all the same in lots of ways.”

The two agree to help everyone understand that refugees are “just like us.”

With today’s flood of refugees and migrants exceeding levels not seen since World War II, Grover’s concern can stir compassion in communities around the world whose support and friendship are essential in making refugees feel welcome. As a Sesame Street resident since 1970, Grover has a voice that is instantly recognizable by children and adults alike, in part because the original puppeteer, Frank Oz, developed the character.

Earlier this year, the little blue monster also did a public service spot cheering on the refugee team that competed at the Summer Olympics in Rio.