The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee is commemorating World Refugee Day this Friday by inviting the public to hear stories from refugees themselves.
The free event will be held at USFSM’s Selby Auditorium from noon to 2 p.m.
Dr. Jody McBrien, a USFSM professor and organizer of the event, said a panel of three refugees resettled from Cuba will share their personal experiences.
“Although the issue of refugees has become all too common in recent years, our understanding of refugees and what they face hasn’t expanded, and what we are hoping this event accomplishes is to help people understand who refugees are,” said McBrien. “We want to put a face to this issue, to humanize it.”
World Refugee Day was founded in 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly and is officially recognized on June 20.
McBrien has researched refugee issues around the world. She feels that the general public has been misinformed about who refugees really are.
“Our celebration is intended as a community information celebration,” said McBrien. "There's a lot of fear that refugees are terrorists, when in fact, they are fleeing terrorists."
"We need to get the correct information out about how much refugees appreciate being able to resettle in the United States and begin their lives anew, and how hard-working they are and how much the contribute to the U.S."
USFSM’s World Refugee Day will include Cuban cuisine, musical selections by Ukrainian refugees and performances from the Sarasota Cuban Ballet School and Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Sarasota.
Refugee families will be able to get free household supplies collected by USFSM students.
The event is held in partnership with Lutheran Services of Florida and the Florida Department of Children and Families’ Southwest Florida Refugee Task Force.
For more information, visit http://sar.usfsm.edu/event/refugee.