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.