West High — photo by Rachel Jessen
West High School — Friday, June 16 from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. & Saturday, June 17 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
The first annual Eastern Iowa Refugee Summit will begin Friday morning and go through Saturday afternoon with a series of discussions and events aimed at celebrating the various cultures refugees and immigrants bring to the area and introducing them to services in the community.
“We’re excited to hopefully have it be a starting point and a catalyst for greater conversations,” said Stephanie Getting, a RefugeeRISE AmeriCorps employee at IC Compassion who is helping to organize the event. “We’re really hoping to continue the conversation with community members, nonprofits and different organizations, to come together and work with the refugee community.”
The summit, which will be held at Iowa City’s West High School, is a project of the Eastern Iowa Refugee Alliance. Alliance members, a coalition of groups such as local churches, nonprofits that serve refugees and immigrants and representatives from the University of Iowa, felt the need for a way to bring more voices and organizations together, which inspired the summit, Getting said. Although Des Moines has hosted refugee summits in the past, this will be the first in eastern Iowa.
Planning meeting for the Eastern Iowa Refugee Summit. — photo courtesy of IC Compassion
The first day of the summit will include a panel discussion about refugee Iowans followed by breakout sessions on topics like refugee youth advocacy, political action, health in refugee communities, refugees in the workforce and allyship. Agencies that serve refugees will also have information on display. On Saturday, the Refugee and Immigrant Association will celebrate World Refugee Day with a soccer tournament in the morning followed by lunch at noon, and speakers and awards will close out the event from 1-4 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door for $35, and admission is free for refugees.