SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Utah is home to more than 65,000 refugees from more than 20 different countries. These are people who left their native countries due to political conflict, warfare, ethnic cleansing, regime change, forced displacement, and more. They often fear persecution for reasons related to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. They all have incredible stories of rebuilding their lives in Utah and giving back to the place that they now call home.
This year from June 14 to June 19, Utah is celebrating World Refugee Week with a number of events such a naturalization ceremony to swear in 14 new U.S. citizens and a food event to provide international cuisine from different food trucks and vendors. The goal is to celebrate the achievements and contributions of refugees, share their culture with the community, provide opportunities for interaction and friendship, and raise awareness about the hardships they’ve experienced and the challenges they face.
Tennyson George, an I.T. professional and student in tech classes at the Utah Refugee Center joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. to share his personal experiences as a refugee. He talked about being born in Sierra Leone and the circumstances that forced his family to flee to the United States. He shared the challenges he faced rebuilding his life in a new country, how he overcame that, the opportunities and achievements he’s had since coming to Utah, what he’s doing now for work, why it’s important to him to help other refugees, and what World Refugee Week means to him.
Naima Mohamed, a social work at the Utah Refugee Services Office, shared her family’s story of fleeing Somalia, how she overcame challenges as a refugee, the opportunities and achievements she’s had since coming to the United States, her journey to citizenship, what World Refugee Week means to her, and why she decided to pursue a career as a social worker.
Asha Parekh, director at the Utah Refugee Services Office, discussed data about refugees, why refugees are a crucial part of our community, the purpose and schedule of World Refugee Week, and what she’d like the community to think about and know when it comes to refugees.
The rest of the events scheduled for World Refugee Week are:
- Thursday, June 17 at 10 a.m.: How a career interruption set Tennyson on a new path to success
- Thursday, June 17 at 12 p.m.: Take a taste of Bhutan from the comfort of your own kitchen
- Friday, June 18 at 10 a.m.: How art connects South Sudanese refugees to home
- Friday, June 18 at 12 p.m.: More than a job – How the passion of Refugee Services Office staff fuels their work
- Friday, June 18 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.: A Taste of World Refugee Day at Big Cottonwood Regional Park (dinner, movie, family fun)
- Saturday, June 19 at 12 p.m.: Happy World Refugee Day 2021!
- Saturday, June 19 at 2 p.m.: Becoming an American: 2021 World Refugee Day Naturalization Ceremony highlights
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with George, Mohamed, and Parekh, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.