Multicultural party welcomes Portland newcomers

Discover why the rally called “Portlanders Stand with Refugees and Immigrants” was a celebration …

Many people came to outer East Portland, in the Mill Park neighborhood, to listen to speakers celebrating with new Portlanders – who are refugees and immigrants.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The large gymnasium and hallways of the Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) East Portland Community Center were filled with music, and swirling with activity, on the evening of March 17 — for a festivity called “Portlanders Stand with Refugees and Immigrants”.

“Tonight is an event where all are welcomed to a fun evening of Bollywood, and African and Middle Eastern dance and music, while honoring Portland area refugee and immigrant families,” explained the host and organizer, PP&R Parks for New Portlanders manager Som Nath Subedi.

Event organizer Som Nath Subedi pauses to watch the festivities.

“We think the community is in fear, and they need to feel safe; they need to hear that the City of Portland is a safe place for them to immigrate,” Subudi told East Portland News.

“It’s just a wonderful event!” commented Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who is in charge of the Parks Bureau. “There must be a thousand people here; it’s fun to see everybody dancing, listening to music, and hearing the speeches by community and elected leaders,” she said.

Performers head out into the crowd to get them dancing.

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Oregon Senator Michael Dembrow (D) District 23 gather for a photo with New Portlanders Youth Ambassadors.

“If we don’t get together with things that most of us can do, like listening to music and enjoying food, we stay ‘different’,” Fritz added. “We are all here together enjoying the evening, and what is common to us all.”

Beyond hosting a fun evening that included East Asian and Middle Eastern food carts with delicacies for sale, there was a message behind the revelry, Subudi pointed out to us – and that was to help reduce fear among members of the of Portland’s refugee and immigrant community.

Athar Asaide and Richa Almani from Ziggurat Mediterranean Deli smile while serving tasty food in their tent.

Members of the Jai Ho! Dance Troupe gather before their performance.

Representatives of community and nonprofit organizations, along with governmental bureaus and agencies, provide information at the celebration.

“We came up with this idea, because it’s important to know and love our neighbors,” Subudi explained. “I think musical programs and food bring people together, and this makes our community safer and stronger.

“I thank Portlanders for giving so much support to refugees and immigrants,” concluded Subudi.

© 2017 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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