Celebrating Cultures Old and New in Lackawanna County

People from around the world gathered in Scranton on Saturday to celebrate cultures old and new.

SCRANTON, Pennsylvania — World Refugee Day shines a light on the rights, needs and dreams of refugees…many of those seeking a new life have found themselves here in Lackawanna County.

“Scranton has immigrant roots when you think back to the days of coal mining, people came here for work and opportunity and now we have new refugees from all over the world facing war and persecution in their home country who find a new place to live so it’s important for us to welcome them as neighbors,” said Julie Schumacher Cohen, Community Engagement, University of Scranton.

Several community groups came together to hold a World Refugee Day celebration at the YMS of R Grove in Scranton. Community members say it’s easy to lose sight of other people’s situation just by looking from the outside.

“I just got back from the bishops conference in San Diego and we had an opening mass right on the border and you could see the walls. And if you were born on one side, your life is an experience and if you were born from the other life is different,” said Joseph Bambera, Bishop of Scranton.

Although it is a day to celebrate the resilience of people who have emerged from conflict, it is a grim reminder of what life is like for those still in their homeland.

“Today we celebrate World Refugee Day, but for us it is sad because it reminds us of what is happening in our country and the pressures of families living in refugee camps, as well as poverty and poverty. homelessness,” said Ushu Mukelo, president. Congolese community of Scranton.

People came together to share their country’s rich culture and reflect on the new opportunities that have opened up to them since arriving in the United States.

“For us, it’s an opportunity to go to school as young people, to prepare children for employment and to be able to work and to be able to buy property in the area,” Ushu said.

“Life is always a struggle, but slowly day by day we are getting there. We are proud to be here and now we are naturalizing and proud to be American citizens,” said Csandra Sitaula of the Bhutanses Cultural Foundation.

“When I came here I was two and five, so we grew up here with our family too. I see all the cultures, people and languages ​​that I love being here,” said Nanda Lagun, from Bhutan.

World Refugee Day will be officially honored on Monday.

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James C. Tibbs