Utica’s Refugee Community for Dagbladet Information


Fatumah Mohamed, 43, is a refugee from Darfur, Sudan, recently resettled in Utica, New York, USA. She is seen here in a classroom at the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees where she is learning English and other skills useful for her new life in Utica. When asked what she would like to do for a job in her new life, she said she might start as a housekeeper but wanted to become a judge like Luis Gabriel Moreno Ocampo, the first Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court. The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees is one of the largest resettlement agencies in the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service network, though it is a secular organizatnoi. The Center has assisted in the resettlement of refugees from 31 countries since it began in 1979.
A fading mural in downtown Utica, New York, USA, reads "Utica / Always Reaching Toward Greater Height."
Jeanne Lippincott helps students during an English as a Second Language course at the adult education center above the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees in Utica, New York. Lippincott says has been teaching at the center for 15 or 20 years. Most of the students take classes to improve employment opportunities.
The Bosnian Islamic Association of Utica operates the Utica Mosque in a former church located on Court Street next to City Hall in Utica, New York, USA. The former Christian congregation became too small to sustain the church and sold the building to the Islamic Association. There was a ceremony marking the change in which members of the former congregation were given the cross from the building.
A variety of goods popular with the local Somali community is for sale at a store operated by Mohammed Mohamed, 20, is a Somali Bantu refugee who was resettled in Utica, New York, USA, with his family when he was 11. He now operates a small store on Mohawk Street in Utica, offering a variety of specialized goods to the local Somali community.
Fatumah Mohamed, 43, is a refugee from Darfur, Sudan, recently resettled in Utica, New York, USA. She is seen here in a classroom at the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees where she is learning English and other skills useful for her new life in Utica. When asked what she would like to do for a job in her new life, she said she might start as a housekeeper but wanted to become a judge like Luis Gabriel Moreno Ocampo, the first Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court. The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees is one of the largest resettlement agencies in the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service network, though it is a secular organizatnoi. The Center has assisted in the resettlement of refugees from 31 countries since it began in 1979.
Moo Wah is a refugee from the Karen ethnic group in Myanmar, seen here at the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees in Utica, New York, USA. Moo Wah has been unable to find a job in Utica since being resettled there and uses the center's resources to help learn English. The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees is one of the largest resettlement agencies in the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service network, though it is a secular organizatnoi. The Center has assisted in the resettlement of refugees from 31 countries since it began in 1979.
Mirsen Durmisevic, 33, is a Bosnian refugee who owns a Utica, New York, restaurant called Secret Garden, serving Bosnian and other European dishes. Durmisevic fled Bosnia with his family in the early 90s, first going to Germany. He came to Utica in the late 90s.
Sanh Soeung is a refugee from Cambodia who came to Utica, New York, USA, 6 years ago to open Sunny Restaurant, where she sells mostly Thai food. She had previously lived in Rhode Island, but the cost of living was too high. Soeung learned to cook Thai food while living in Thailand after fleeing Cambodia.
Sanh Soeung is a refugee from Cambodia who came to Utica, New York, USA, 6 years ago to open Sunny Restaurant, where she sells mostly Thai food. She had previously lived in Rhode Island, but the cost of living was too high. Soeung learned to cook Thai food while living in Thailand after fleeing Cambodia.
Abdallah Tamir Ismir, 25, is a refugee from Darfur, Sudan, who recently arrived in Utica, New York, USA. He is seen here in a classroom at the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees where he is learning English and other skills useful for his new life in Utica. The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees is one of the largest resettlement agencies in the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service network, though it is a secular organizatnoi. The Center has assisted in the resettlement of refugees from 31 countries since it began in 1979.
Abdallah Tamir Ismir, 25, is a refugee from Darfur, Sudan, who recently arrived in Utica, New York, USA. He is seen here in a classroom at the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees where he is learning English and other skills useful for his new life in Utica. The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees is one of the largest resettlement agencies in the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service network, though it is a secular organizatnoi. The Center has assisted in the resettlement of refugees from 31 countries since it began in 1979.
Eh Ta, 62, (left) and Sahondranirinan Ratsimandefitr, 53, work on a lesson in an English as a Second Language class at the adult education center above the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees in Utica, New York. Eh Ta is from Thailand and has lived in Utica for 7 years. Ratsimandefitris from Madagascar and has been in Utica for 3 years. The two always work together in class.
Shelly Callahan is the Executive Director of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees in Utica, New York, USA. The Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees is one of the largest resettlement agencies in the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service network, though it is a secular organizatnoi. The Center has assisted in the resettlement of refugees from 31 countries since it began in 1979.
Houses on Eagle Street in Utica, New York, USA. As much as one third of the approximately 60,000 residents of Utica are refugees.
Mohammed Mohamed, 20, is a Somali Bantu refugee who was resettled in Utica, New York, USA, with his family when he was 11. He now operates a small store on Mohawk Street in Utica, offering a variety of specialized goods to the local Somali community.
A cemetery built by the Bosnian Muslim refugee community stands outside Utica, New York.
A cemetery built by the Bosnian Muslim refugee community stands outside Utica, New York.
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I spent a quick few hours in Utica with Danish writer Martin Burcharth on a story about Utica, New York’s refugee community for the Danish newspaper Dagbladet Information. Martin had written a series of articles on the subject in the mid-90s, mostly about resettled Bosnian refugees, and wanted to revisit the city to see what had become of the program. Nearly a third of Utica’s population comprises refugees from around the world resettled by the US Department of State and the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, which was founded in 1979. Bosnians, Somali Bantu, Sudanese from Darfur, Karen, Burmese, Thai, Czech, Russian, and other nationalities have found new lives in Utica, a city long abandoned by industry and business. These new Americans have started businesses and otherwise become part of the community.

 

The article is available, in Danish only, on Information’s website.

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