In unison: Locals, immigrants celebrate World Refugee Day with party at music conservatory

Family fun day: Adam AlFaraji and his mother, Bana Alani, enjoyed the festivities at the World Refugee Day Festival at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music on June 23.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Talk about an open guest list!

Big-hearted Brooklynites celebrated refugees and the local organizations that help them acclimate to life in Kings County at a Saturday bash at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music — a century-plus old institution with a diverse history that made it the perfect place for the festivities, a staffer said.

Music to their ears: Attendees enjoyed performances from musicians at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

“The conservatory was founded 121 years ago by immigrants,” said Miranda Knutson, who oversees finance and special projects at the Prospect Heights conservatory.

The second-annual World Refugee Day Festival connected asylum seekers with city groups that help them resettle locally, such as the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and featured musical entertainment in the form of nearly 30 performers who showcased tunes from such countries as Cuba, Mexico, Russia, the Philippines, Nigeria, and Romania.

Global tunes: Musicians from around the world performed at the World Refugee Day Festival at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music on June 23.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Face painters and henna tattoo artists joined in the fun, too, adorning youngsters and kids-at-heart with free body art at the event held in honor of World Refugee Day, which was on June 20.

The day of camaraderie showed refugees who flee their countries for Kings County that there are people here who are ready to greet them with open arms — even as many seeking asylum are being detained for illegally entering the United States — and who know how important immigrants are to the nation’s history, a leader of a Downtown-based refugee-support group said.

Everybody’s welcome: Amed Alfaraji, who works with refugees at the Downtown Arab-American Family Support Center, spread the organization’s mission of acceptance and support at the event by providing attendees with information about services available to refugees.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

“America is built on refugees,” said Amed AlFaraji, the director of community outreach at the Arab-American Family Support Center. “We want them to feel they are welcome. We are here to support them.”

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.

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