A Little Beyonce, A Little Burundi

Ariela Martin PhotoBeyonce’s “Move Your Body” was their encore, after two traditional African drumming, songs, and dances were performed.

In the process, seven female teens and young adults—six from Burundi, one from Tanzania—combined newly acquired “American-style” dance moves with their native colorful festive dresses, proving to themselves and the audience that it is possible to merge their traditions with American culture.

Their broad smiles and high energy brought the multicultural audience of refugees from various countries and other guests together, in celebration of World Refugee Day.

“It wasn’t easy in the beginning to adjust to our new life, but I’ve learned to like it here. I miss my friends back home and my village, but it’s up to God and his plan to decide if I should stay or go back to my country,” said Simplice (who like the ensemble’s other girls preferred not to give a last name).

In celebration of World Refugee Day, IRIS (Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services), an organization that helps refugees and other displaced people establish new lives, regain hope, and contribute to the vitality of Connecticut’s communities, held an event featuring stories, dance, music, and food from around the world.

The event took place at Yale’s Luce Hall on Wednesday. It included an advanced screening of a documentary film called “A Place in the World”. The follows the lives of children and families in the outskirts of Atlanta who attend a charter school that “brings together refugee children from war-torn countries all over the world and teaches them alongside local American children”. (To learn more about the documentary film, click here.)

A children’s program took place in the afternoon. Refugee students from Fair Haven Middle School shared songs from their native countries and poetry that they wrote. Performances included “Fair Haven”, a poem written and recited by Badreldin Ahmed about his new life and school and a poem by Janice Irokoze called “About My Mom”. Sarah DeBeer, a renowned storyteller, delighted the audience with her performance of stories about Iraq and Kenya/East Africa.

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