At the start of CYO’s holiday party for kids and youth K-12, Eh Dar Bu Soe, a staff member, led in two wide-eyed brothers. The boys had recently arrived from Nepal, and the party was their first time at the after school program for recent refugee kids. The boys didn’t speak English, so Eh Dar sought assistance from Mitky, a young girl from Nepal who’s lived in Syracuse for a year. Ed Dar found Mitky coloring with two sisters from Afghanistan and another friend from Mauritania.
“Mitky!” Eh Dar said. “Mitky, can you say hello to them? In Nepali so they know you speak it?”
Mitky looked at the boys, smiling and waving tentatively. They smiled back and Mitky’s friends waved, too.
“Mitky, please say hello to them,” Eh Dar tried again.
Mitky, shy, ducked her head and wiggled down in her chair, nearly disappearing beneath the tabletop. Her friends came to the rescue.
“Namaste!” said the three girls, bowing quickly over folded hands. The two new arrivals beamed and responded in kind.
“Oh!” said Eh Dar, slightly bemused by the Afghanistani/Mauritanian/Nepali greeting. “That’s nice. Thank you, girls!”
The brothers found seats and joined the others in coloring pages and decorating sugar cookies. After everyone got through their snacks, staff members gave out gifts donated by parishioners of the Immaculate Conception Church. Young kids got presents to unwrap while older ones received gift cards.
The two brothers spent the afternoon sticking together and watching the busy room with looks of slight astonishment. Staff members were careful to keep an eye on them. Maddie Wood, Refugee Youth Supervisor, reminded the room what it felt like to be new, and how nice it was to feel welcome. Many of the kids stepped up happily, helping the newcomers find their way through the snack line, and prompting them to raise their hands with two fingers up in a peace sign when staff called for quiet.
It was a busy afternoon and not without several reprimands for rowdiness, but in general the holiday spirit prevailed – check out the galery below for some details! Our thanks to the dedicated staff and donors who help make these moments possible.
By Bridget Dunn, Communications Coordinator