Austin residents are invited to join in the celebration of the United Nations World Refugee Day at the Bob Bullock State History Museum, 1800 N Congress Ave, this Saturday to learn more about the international refugee community in Austin. This year’s celebration coincides with the 30th Anniversary of the Refugee Act of 1980, landmark legislation signed by President Carter.
Included in the festivities will be a special naturalization ceremony in the Spirit Theatre, where 15-20 refugees from the Austin area will be granted U.S. citizenship. Over 1000 of these new Austin residents have settled here this past year, looking for new opportunities after having to leave their home countries to escape war, famine, or persecution of race, religion, nationality, and/or political opinion. Austin has a long history of hosting refugees from countries including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, Burundi, China, Congo, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Nepal, Somalia, Sudan, and Vietnam.
Sponsoring the event are local agencies that provide social services to help displaced persons become self-sufficient, including Austin Area Interreligious Ministries (AAIM), Center for Survivors of Torture (CST), City of Austin Refugee Health Screening Clinic, Heart of Texas Peace Corps Association (HoTPCA), Multicultural Refugee Coalition (MRC), and Refugee Services of Texas-Austin (RST). The event is also made possible because of the Bob Bullock Museum and many community volunteers.
The festival, taking place on June 26 from noon to 3:00 pm, will include a variety of cultural activities, including a fashion show, children’s activities, and live performances by refugee musicians and dancers from around the world.
For more information on Refugee Services of Texas-Austin who, along with helping with refugee services, also assists victims of human trafficking, visit their website at http://rstaustin.wordpress.com.By Monica Pena