Local News

'Refugees Welcome' dinner hopes to spark conversation about stigmas

Posted November 27, 2016

— Hundreds of Syrian refugees live in North Carolina and a special dinner was held Sunday evening for immigrants and refugees concerned about their future as President-Elect Donald Trump transitions into the White House.

The meal was like one big family enjoying each other’s company and kicking off the holiday season, but the gathering had a very serious message- refugees are welcome.

"There's so much more required of us than tolerance. I think that, fundamentally, our task is to realize that we're one," one attendee said.

The owner of Vimala’s Curryblossom Café and Church World Service teamed up to host the event. Just like any family gathering, they’ve got music, food and activities for children.

They also discussed building relationships between the local community and refugees and immigrants. They said the event is largely in response to the stance Trump has taken on those particular issues.

Trump has said in the past that he would suspend immigration from Syria and Libya. The people at Sunday’s event want just the opposite.

“In this country, we all know that people want to know where you’re from,” said Vimala’s Curryblossom Café owner, Vimala Rajendran. “Let’s make that question okay, as long as we can believe that as long as we’re here, we all belong.”

Rajendran said she came to the United States 36 years ago and people still ask her where she's from.

The idea behind Sunday's dinner was to bring the local community and refugees together, provide lively music, a warm meal and extend a welcoming hand. For one couple, who had a personal connection to the dinner's message, that meant providing donated clothing.

Organizers said they hope the event will serve as a model for other restaurants and organizations to show welcome to newly arriving refugees, who "endure harmful stereotyping, suspicion and xenophobic policy."


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  • Rusty Shackleford Nov 28, 2016
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    Perhaps it's true that Trump has said nothing about harming legal immigrants, but a number of the racist scum who form part of his base of support have made so such distinction.

  • Ethan Mathews Nov 28, 2016
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    Bad timing if you ask the OSU folks....

  • Nicolle Leney Nov 28, 2016
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    If you read/listen to some of Trump's comments (Omar Mateen, the judge on the Trump U case, for example), Trump barely (or doesn't) thinks that US-born children of immigrants are Americans. It's thinking like this that allowed US-born Americans of Japanese descent to be sent to internment camps. While that hopefully would not happen today (because I hope more people would fight it), it did not happen all that long ago. And with the rhetoric from some groups, I can understand why legal immigrants are justifiably worried.

  • Ronald Woodard Nov 27, 2016
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    If immigrants are here legally, why would they be concerned about their future? Donald Trump has said nothing about harming legal immigrants. His comments about Syrian refugees are in line with concerns expressed by US CIS and the FBI concerning the ability to properly vet some refugees from some areas.