On December 3, the International Rescue Committee in Silver Spring brought together over 50 clients, volunteers, and staff for a Thanksgiving meal and afternoon of festivities. Sampling traditional American fare such as roasted turkey and cranberry sauce alongside delicacies like homemade dolmas and Syrian pastries, refugee families and IRC volunteers and staff had an opportunity to share their cultural traditions with each other and express the things that they are thankful for in their lives.
It was the first Thanksgiving for many of the refugee families attending the event, and they enjoyed participating in such an iconic American holiday. “It was great to see children eating pumpkin pie for the first time and making hand turkeys,” says Naomi McMillen, Family Mentor VISTA at the IRC in Silver Spring. “Celebrations like these are so important for making refugees feel at home and welcome in the United States.”
Refugee families weren’t the only ones to learn about new customs. IRC staff and volunteers from the Family Mentor Program and GenR also had a chance to gain knowledge of the unique cultural heritage of IRC clients. “A Thanksgiving meal doesn’t have to just include turkey and mashed potatoes,” says Naomi McMillen. “When refugees contribute their own family recipes to a Thanksgiving feast, it gives us Americans the chance to experience something new as well.”
The event wouldn’t have been a success without the support of IRC’s team of volunteers. Members of GenR - the IRC in Silver Spring’s group of young professionals committed to advocating for refugees in Maryland – provided logistical support and food for the celebration. Volunteers in the Family Mentor Program helped transport families to the event and contributed numerous delicious dishes.
Interested in supporting the IRC in Silver Spring’s efforts to welcome refugees?
For more information about volunteer and internship opportunities at the International Rescue Committee in Silver Spring, contact Volunteer Coordinator Mark Youmans at Mark.Youmans [at] rescue.org.
Want to become a Family Mentor? Reach out to the Family Mentor Coordinator Samantha Musson at Samantha.musson [at] rescue.org.