On June 20, World Refugee Day, a panel of Houston-area experts will discuss the global refugee crisis and how the city’s five refugee resettlement agencies are addressing the issue – including finding unique opportunities to help refugees on new levels, such as better employment opportunities, socialization opportunities that combat isolation, and academic scholarships for adult refugees. The event will be held at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts Museum’s Brown Auditorium from 6 to 8 p.m.
Sponsored by the Houston Refugee Consortium, the primary coordinators of this year’s event are Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, the Alliance for Multicultural Community Services, the Bilingual Education Institute, Refugee Services of Texas and YMCA International Services. At the event, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner will speak and present a proclamation celebrating the unrelenting perseverance of refugees and making June 20 the official World Refugee Day for Houston.
“Refugees are civic leaders, business owners, public servants, community activists, educators, innovators and much more,” Turner said in a recent statement to the city’s Office of New Americans and Immigrant Communities. “They share the American Dream and the core values that bind us as citizens of this great city of opportunity that comes through hard work and resilience. It is a great honor to celebrate their contributions on World Refugee Day.”
Panelists participating in the event include: Stephen Klineberg, founding director of Rice University’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research; Jeff Watkins, vice president of Global Initiatives at YMCA International; Alyssa Stebbing, outreach director of Trinity Episcopal Church; Jonathan Trinh, principal of Wisdom High School; and Yuliya Labanouskaya, district manager for Starbucks, which has begun offering employment opportunities geared toward refugees.
Panelists also will offer perspective on how the Houston community can effectively support refugees, how refugees benefit the local economy, Houston’s changing demographics, and the role that the education system and faith organizations play in a diverse city.
Lomi Kriel, Houston Chronicle reporter, will moderate the session.
The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. Individuals interested in attending should register online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/houston-4-refugees-world-refugee-day-tickets-45661300178