Lutheran Social Services Addresses Refugee Controversy

As more refugees settle in the area, Lutheran Social Services is highlighting the need for more understanding.

The organization held its annual Building Bridges Conference discussing the concerns involving diversity, integration, and refugees.

Lutheran Social Services leaders say the conference is a way to work with the community in helping refugees successfully settle in area.

Refugees settling in North Dakota isn’t going to stop any time soon.

Larry Bartlett, Director of the U.S. Refugee Admission Office, says it’s important to realize one thing.
“First of all its one of the ways that our country and the citizens of our country provide support to others,” said Bartlett.
Bartlett says supporting refugees is crucial in helping them integrate into society.
One of the recurring topics during the conference was the growing need for more English learning programs in the FM area.
“So many children are coming here without English, and so again we know this not unique to this community this happens throughout the U.S,” said Bartlett.
Bartlett says he will be pushing for additional funding in the months to come, and ESL teachers like Leah Juelke agree that is it one of the biggest hurdles.
“They’re coming in and they don’t know how to speak English. They don’t really know how to understand and do the content in the classes if English is a barrier,” said Juelke.

John Dau of Kenya went through four refugee camps before being sent to Syracuse, New York in 2001.

He is a proud refugee who has successfully integrated into American life, and attributes that to welcoming arms.
“Don’t run away from them, approach them and find them out,” said Dau.
As an author, non-profit CEO and actor featured in the documentary, the Lost Boys of Sudan, he says it’s important for the community to see all that refugees can offer.
“These are important people they bring some sort of ideas, they bring things to the United States,” said Dau.

The two day conference will continue tomorrow.

In the last year, Lutheran Social Services has helped resettle just over 500 refugees in the area.

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