On Thursday, June 20, the International Institute’s US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants and Erie Arts & Culture activates Perry Square in collaboration with the Crime Victim Center, Kinetic Creativity, and the Multi-Cultural Resource Center. We invite you to join us for an interactive lunchtime gathering from 11:30 to 1:00. Through storytelling, dance, music and a new game that stimulates conversation, attendees can learn about the joys and challenges that refugees face when coming to Erie. You can pack a lunch, purchase something from Shawarma Station food truck, or support one of the nearby restaurants. The public is welcome to embrace and celebrate Erie’s diversity.
Leading up to this event, in partnership with the International Institute and as part of the New Horizons initiative, folklorist and storyteller Kelly Armor and mentee thespian Jessica Annunziata facilitated workshops with four former refugees. Using simple drama exercises and discussion, participants have chosen some part of their life to craft into a story to share with the public during the World Refugee Day event. Storytellers include Asla Alkhafaji and Maitham Agha-Basha from Iraq, Ansumana Gbembo from Sierra Leone, and Nanda Chuwan from Bhutan.
Additionally, Briana Cummings, Erie Arts & Culture’s Marketing and Engagement Specialist, is working with artist Ghadah Hussein, a former refugee from Iraq and recent graduate from Erie Institute of Technology, to design and produce a card game that promotes cross-cultural understanding through a question and answer format. Ghadah, a former refugee from Iraq, is a visual artist and graphic designer.
Mid-Day Dance Break, a recurring initiative by Kinetic Creativity and the Crime Victim Center, will facilitate performances and a workshop led by Victoria Angelo, a former refugee from South Sudan. Participants will learn through movement about traditional Acholi dances native to South Sudan and Uganda.
The Multi-Cultural Resource Center will also curate a playlist of music from countries represented by Erie’s growing New American population.
To promote local businesses in Erie Erie Arts & Culture will share a handout of businesses owned by Erie’s former refugees.