Jun 11, 2014

Local events to mark World Refugee Day celebration



(Iobserve file photos)

Staff report

SPRINGFIELD – A June 21 soccer tournament to be held at the Commerce High School athletic fields will be part of a three-day World Refugee Day celebration taking place in the Springfield area June 19-21.  

World Refugee Day was established in 2000 by the United Nations to “honor the courage, strength and determination of the 45.2 million women, men and children who are forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.” It is celebrated by hundreds of communities across the U.S. and the world.

The Springfield area is home to refugees from Vietnam, Bhutan, Russia, Moldova, Iraq, Somalia, Burundi, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Burma, Nepal and Congo among other countries. In western Massachusetts alone, there are more than 10,000 refugees from more than 25 different countries.

The Western Massachusetts Refugee and Immigrant Consortium, a coalition of agencies and organizations who serve immigrants and refugees across western Massachusetts, are inviting all residents to celebrate the people and cultures of those who have found refuge in local communities by attending the following events:

  • On Thursday, June 19, from 6-8 p.m. at Holy Name Parish, 323 Dickinson St., Springfield, refugees will share personal stories of journeying from their home countries to making successful new lives in Springfield as business owners, community leaders and high-achieving students. The video and panel discussion will be led off by a performance of First Generation, a youth theater ensemble of first generation refugee youth, and dramatic Vietnamese Dragon Dancers. Samples of ethnic food will be served. A proclamation signed by Gov. Deval Patrick will be read.
  • On Friday, June 20, from 5-7 p.m., at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church, 475 Main St., West Springfield, Lutheran Social Services will sponsor family-friendly games, performances, educational exhibits and cultural tables.
  • And on Saturday, June 21, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at Commerce High School, 415 State St., Springfield, refugee teams will compete in the community’s first World Refugee Day soccer tournament.

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact Tara at 413-214-5100.