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Local celebrations for World Refugee Day shift to online

Posted at 7:47 PM, Jun 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-19 21:49:45-04

TWIN FALLS — The organizers for Twin Falls and Boise World Refugee Day are working together to continue celebrations for the 20th annual event. Typically the events are held in person with vendors, music and other activities for people to participate in. COVID-19 has forced them to adapt, and the event will now be hosted on Facebook Live.

Despite not being in person, the event will still have musicians, dancers, singers, and poets to highlight the culture in both areas. There will also be speakers during the Facebook live stream to discuss their experiences. The Outreach and Partnership Manager Idaho Office for Refugees, Kara Fink, stated, "We also have folks who arrived as refugees who are essential workers. So we've got some of them talking about how they're serving the community in their work. We have multiple people who are refugees who are in our refugee speakers bureau who will share stories about their journey here."

For loads of people, it is an important day because it doesn't just focus on the beauty of traditions within these cultures. It highlights their journey and hardships that they have faced to get where they are today. The event hopes to share these stories and customs so they may resonate with all people so that these experiences are not forgotten.

"And so to be able to celebrate it and to share it and to witness it as close as possible to the original culture. I think that helps to preserve the integrity of those special cultures," said Palina Louangketh, advisor for the Idaho Laos community.

Typically the event draws in thousands of people. It is unknown whether the numbers will be matched this year, but organizers are still looking at this as a positive experience. Hosting this event online will allow people all over the state to take advantage of this opportunity and learn something new.

"There are communities, there are geographical locations out there, not just here in Idaho, nationwide but also around the world, that don't have access to this enriching opportunity to learn about the beautiful side of diversity, " said Louangketh.

Like many groups who have had to switch to digital means during this pandemic, organizers realize the potential that is going digital. These organizations recognize that it is a platform that can be used for future events and ways to reach out to members of communities throughout Idaho. Many of them feel it could very much change how they connect with others well into the future, even past COVID-19.

World Refugee Day is this Saturday, June 20th, and the Facebook Live events will be taking place at 11:00 a.m. and again at 6:00 p.m. If people miss these events, they will be available for playback once they have concluded.