One Journey Festival 2019
In concert with World Refugee Day celebrations, a D.C.-based non-profit organization, One Journey Festival, whose mission is to amplify refugee voices and enhance public awareness of refugee talents and contributions, hosted its 2nd annual event at the National Cathedral at the end of June drawing more than 5,000 participants. The day-long festival featured music, dance, storytelling, soccer, a take action tent, virtual reality, speakers, refugee-owned food trucks, a robust marketplace, unity parade and more. Their Story is Our Story took part in the event alongside 200+ organizations, businesses, and NGOs. Since then, we have formed important partnerships with One Journey Festival, NOVA Friends of Refugees, ECDC, Catholic Charities Diocese of Arlington, and have developed valuable friendships with individuals who want their story to be told.
How does a refugee move forward in a new country? How do they bridge the gaps they face that are necessary for integration into a new place? Most importantly, how do they learn the language fast enough to get a job and be productive in their communities? One ESL program in Virginia's southeast region targeting mothers and children conducts classes over Zoom, offering both language skills and a sense of community for women who are often more isolated.
In partnership with NoVa Friends of Refugees, we have provided a list of the most relevant proposals for the refugee and immigrant communities, organized by policy category, and encourage our local readers to stay updated and contact your representatives for those issues about which you feel strongly. We have found our elected officials' staff to be easy to talk to and, in our experience, responsive to our emails. The Virginia General Assembly is in session until February 27. Call or write today!
As much as my newcomer friends may need help in successfully integrating into their new communities, the rest of us have much to gain from their lived experience, maybe especially in a pandemic-filled world of uncertainty.