Thank you to everyone who made World Refugee Day Boise so special this year! The community came together at four traveling block parties throughout Boise on Saturday.
We enjoyed Nepalese and Peruvian food and Liberian and Bosnian dance performances. We laughed, ate ice cream, found shade wherever possible and enjoyed each other’s company after a year of not getting to gather in person for the annual event.
“It means a lot for advocacy and reconnecting with the community and celebrating what new community members that we have," emcee and Boise State student Halima Hamud told Idaho News 6.
Idaho News 6: Celebrating World Refugee Day in Boise with a cultural block party
"It is a lot more fun if we are seeing the crowd's reaction and we can feel their energy," said the Makatas Dancers coach. "It is a little more fun when you are in person so this is great, this is fantastic."
KTVB: World Refugee Day celebration held at Sunset Park
"Last year we couldn't celebrate in person, so it's nice that we're able to do so this year in addition to coming out of COVID," said Georgette Siqueiros, the community engagement coordinator at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) Boise. "This year's also a really great year for refugee resettlement. We're seeing a return to historic norms, as far as the number of people that were allowed to resettle in the U.S., so we're very excited about that."
The Treasure Valley will celebrate World Refugee Day on June 26. The annual tradition celebrates the resilience of people who were displaced from their homes but through perseverance have rebuilt a life for themselves and their families.
It's a day of togetherness and a chance to share in different traditions, said Fowzia, who will co-emcee the event.
“People are still connected to their culture so deeply, and others get to learn about it,” she said.
Fowzia, who grew up in Somalia and Kenya, is now raising her 4-year-old daughter in Boise. She’s intentional about teaching her daughter to speak Somali. She wants her to be able to speak with her grandparents without an interpreter.
“Not knowing the language creates a disconnect between the older generation and the younger generation,” Fowzia said, “and there’s so much to learn from the older generation.”
After a year of not getting to gather much in person, Lana Graybeal said World Refugee Day will bring moments of joy and celebration.
“For me it’s bringing everyone together, sharing our food, sharing our music, our stories and our collective love for our city that we call home,” she said.
Lana, the city of Boise’s refugee community liaison, was resettled in the U.S. in 1990 with her parents and brother. They share an Armenian heritage.
“Boise’s been a city that’s welcomed refugees for a long time," Lana said. "The heritage of resettlement really enriches who we are.”
The gathering celebrates the light at the end of the tunnel and the communities that banded together to help each other rebuild, she said.
Maya was 11 when her family was resettled in Boise. She remembers receiving jackets and toys from complete strangers during the holidays. The Basque Center offered space so she and other Bosnian children could practice dancing while their parents chatted in their native language and worked on the uniforms.
“It makes me feel grateful to live in a place where so many people truly care to help others succeed,” she said.
Maya said she’s thankful she wasn’t made to feel ashamed of her culture or pushed to forget it. Sharing her traditions with others builds deeper understanding.
“They can get to know us in a different light than, oh, we’re just poor refugees,” she said. “They get to know us as more than that.”
Maya is a dancer with Mladi Behar, which will lead a dance workshop during the World Refugee Day block party at the Idaho Capital Asian Market, starting at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 26. Click below to see the full schedule of events.
Details are available in multiple languages below. Please pass along to your friends and family who might find this helpful!
No appointment is needed, but you can save time by preregistering online. Click here to sign up.
Thank you to Saint Alphonsus and Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health for partnering with us to help keep the community connected and safe.
To learn more about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, please click here.
Community members gathered at Twin Falls City Park on Friday, June 18, to celebrate the local refugee community and connect with new people. Nine countries were represented through food, music, dance and poetry.
“We love for people to try our traditional foods,” Noor Zohiry, who served food at the Iraq tent with her husband, told the Times-News. (Check out that great feature and pictures here.)
Hundreds of people gathered for the event, which was spread out throughout the park and hosted by the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Programs. Kids played water games and got their faces painted with colorful designs, while adults chatted over dinner.
“I think it’s the most special event our community has each year,” attendee Kasi Allen told the Times-News.
It was great to be together again, especially after last year's event was all online to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Boise's World Refugee Day block parties are coming up this Saturday, June 26. Learn more here.
Idahoans are invited to celebrate World Refugee Day this month!
Attendees will have an opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine from Saint Alphonsus. (Click here for information about the clinic in multiple languages.)
Boise’s event will take a new shape this year with traveling block parties featuring dance workshops, free food from refugee- and immigrant-owned food trucks, Darjeeling Momo and Machu Picchu Peruvian Cuisine, as well as ice cream from Crazy Cow Ice Cream Co.
The Makatas Dancers, an African dance group, will perform at the first three block parties, and the Mladi Behar Bosnian dance group will lead a workshop at the final block party at the Idaho Capital Asian Market Plaza.
In Twin Falls, nine countries will be represented through food, dance and poetry. The event is important because it gives local citizens and resettled refugees a chance to connect and get to know each other firsthand, said Zeze Rwasama, director of the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Programs.
Without intentionality, it’s easy to lose language skills and other traditions when growing up in a new country, said Maya Duravic, who is part of the Bosnian dance group, Mladi Behar, that will lead workshops during Boise’s World Refugee Day. The other group that will perform, The Makatas (pictured above from 2018), will showcase African dances.
Maya's family resettled in Boise when she was 11. The Basque Center offered space so she and other Bosnian children could practice dancing while their parents chatted in their native language and worked on the uniforms.
“I’m really happy that we arrived to the states in a time where keeping our cultural roots is something that’s not to be ashamed of and we’re not made to forget that,” Maya said. “We’re encouraged to share that with our neighbors so they can get to know us in a different light than ‘oh, we’re just poor refugees.’ They get to know us as more than that.”
The events are sponsored by:
Author: Holly Beech
Idaho Office for Refugees Communications Manager