For immigrants, adjusting to a new country’s way of life can be filled with twists and turns as one learns the rules and traditions of their adopted home. Today, the International Institute of St. Louis helped acquaint new arrivals in the traditions of Thanksgiving with their annual holiday program and luncheon. After guests and students alike sang along to a Power Point-Assisted rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land,” a traditional meal of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and peach cobbler was served to demonstrate even further the significance of understanding this traditional American holiday.
Anna Crosslin, the president & CEO of the Institute, believes that the event serves as a hands-on orientation of sorts. "This is all new to them. They see decorations, they see people talking about Thanksgiving. Their kids come home from school and they have activities that they’ve been doing, and everything," she says. "And so it’s a very important cultural orientation for them to actually experience Thanksgiving so that they can put all that they see and they hear in some kind of cultural context."
Mushreq Al Jorani is an Iraqi refugee who arrived here in September.
“My family came to the United States three years ago. I join them now. It’s wonderful. Everything is good. I believe I can manage – I can get good," says the 52 year-old.
This is the 27th year that the International Institute has held their annual celebration. In the past fiscal year, over 500 newly sponsored refugees have come to St. Louis. Services that the Institute provides for both immigrants and refugees includes teaching English, job placement, and assistance in housing relocation for refugees.