Boise has the rare public opportunity to embrace its diverse culture on Saturday, June 18 as it welcomes its newest citizens in this year’s edition of the World Refugee Celebration, a tradition dating back to 2001. But the 2016 celebration will come with two new twists.
“This year is different,” said Kara Fink, Outreach and Partnership Manager of the Idaho Office for Refugees. “Because we’re in a new location, we’re on a beaten track. We hope for a good turnout for such an important event.”
The June 18 celebration will start at 10:30 am and run until 12:00 pm in the Boise City Hall—different from than the usual location at The Grove in downtown Boise—and then shift its energy to Ann Morrison Park, from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. where new and old Boise citizens will engage in Boise’s first World Refugee Day Soccer Friendly. There, refugees will be able to represent themselves both as American citizens and as people of their native land. Boiseans can bring their own lunches and cool off later with some ice cream served by the Boise Police Department.
“This is the first year we got to tackle something we wanted to do for a long time,” Fink said. “We’ve got two organizers who play soccer and they’re establishing teams. Four teams are going to play each other until we have a tournament winner.”
During the earlier City Hall celebration, Boise citizens can still expect to once again enjoy exposure to an array of culture through live performances including an African children’s choir and Bosnian dancers in addition to sundry other vendors. But they should also expect to gain a deep understanding of those who come from many walks of life.
Fink said the most moving element is the citizenship ceremony, where the USCIS will swear in refugees and officially pronounce them as Boise citizens. The ceremony will take place during the festivities in Boise City Hall.
“We have refugees who were doctors, farmers, teachers—a myriad of different people who are our neighbors and this event celebrates what they’re bringing to our community,” Fink said. “It’s an opportunity to engage with and learn from people you might not normally run into or talk to on a regular basis.”