A Saturday-morning coffee ceremony by Missoula's Eritrean refugees at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church kicked off "Welcome Week" activities by Soft Landing Missoula, a refugee aid nonprofit group.
More than 100 refugees have arrived in Missoula over the last year, helped by the International Rescue Committee and Soft Landing.
In addition to the traditional coffee ceremony, the week's activities include:
• Saturday, Sept. 16-Sunday, Sept. 24: A main-floor exhibit at the University of Montana's Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library about the Missoula residents who have been working directly with refugee families. The free exhibit is open 7 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
• Sunday, Sept. 17: The Congolese families return to the stage for their second theatrical production in Missoula. Come to the Sentinel High School from 3-5 p.m. for a production that will focus on Congolese culture, music, and dance. followed by a Q&A with the performers. Admission is free with a suggested donation to benefit the participating families.
• Monday, Sept. 18: What spice do Syrians like in their coffee? How do you say "delicious" in Arabic? What stringed instrument do Iraqis play? Meet, greet and compete in Missoula’s first Culture Quiz, sponsored by SALAM (Standing Alongside America's Muslims). Test your knowledge of new Missoulians' cultures in a Jeopardy-style trivia game, followed by potluck dessert and table games from Iraq, Syria and other countries in the region. Event is 7 p .m. at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church, 130 S. Sixth St. E., at 7 p.m. Bring a dessert dish.
• Tuesday, Sept. 19: The Missoula Art Museum, 335 N. Pattee St., features the final showing of the Hmong culture exhibition, “From Flower Cloth to Story Cloth: Hmong Textiles in the MAM Collection.” Drinks and light snacks will be provided at 4 p.m., courtesy of The Good Food Store. Free.
• Wednesday, Sept. 20: Soft Landing Missoula, the International Rescue Committee, Montana Women Vote, the Montana Human Rights Network and many other partner agencies around the state are joining together to call our government representatives to express our support for refugee resettlement. In Missoula, supporters will gather at the Montana Women Vote office at 725 W. Alder St., No. 21 from 6-7 p.m. From home, read this post to learn more about issues, which calls need to be made during Welcoming Week, and read suggested language for your call.
• Thursday, Sept. 21: Join the Jeanette Rankin Peace Center at the Roxy Theater at 8 p.m. to celebrate the UN International Day of Peace with the award-winning film, Rooted in Peace, features interviews with David Lynch, Mairead Maguire, Pete Seeger, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and many more.
• Saturday, Sept. 23: Iraqi and Syrian chefs will partner with the chefs at Caffe Dolce to serve specialty dishes all day, and the Wow Falafel food stand will be on the patio. A portion of the sales of these dishes will go directly to the chefs. Reservations suggested.
• Sunday, Sept. 24: Get a sneak peak of the upcoming documentary, The New Neighbors Project upstairs at The Elks, 112 N. Pattee St., at 5 p.m. This innovative project gives refugees a chance to tell a story from behind the camera. Watch previews of refugee-directed short films, which will be featured in film festivals around the county including Missoula's Big Sky Film Festival. These range from a little girl’s fairy tale of rescuing her best friend from an evil king, to a man's story of his struggle for education and life in a refugee camp. Q&As with the directors to follow each clip. Event is free with a suggested donation to The New Neighbors Project.
At each event, participants will ahave a chance to record their own immigration story with a friend or family members via the StoryCorps app and Soft Landing’s StoryCorps community. These stories will be archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.