Karen New Year Celebration: Omaha, NE

January 8, 2010

Thought to be the biggest gathering of Karen people in the United States, this year’s Karen New Year celebration in Omaha, Nebraska attracted people from all over the United States. I spent my time wandering around, talking to people, video taping, and taking pictures. I was able to connect with different folks through the wonderful people at the Lutheran Family Services office in Omaha. Through my LFS contact, I was introduced to many Karen refugees who had been resettled to both Minnesota and Omaha. People from states such as Colorado, Michigan, and Wyoming (just a few examples), were also in attendance.

Complete with a volleyball tournament , Karen market, delicious lunch, Karen-idol singing competition, as well as a variety of other entertainment, this festival was a fabulous place to meet people.

One woman I met, Moo-moo, told me of differences that she had experienced while coming from a Thailand refugee camp to the United States. “It was hard to get used to the soft bed,” she recalled as she giggled a little. “At first I just wanted to sleep on the floor. The bed made my back hurt. It wasn’t long though until I got used to it.” This is just one of the many things that Moo-moo spoke of as she remembered her initial move to the U.S.

Stories similar to Moo-moo’s continued throughout the day, as I learned just a small piece about the lives of a few different individuals.

All together a wonderful experience. Learn a lot of about the incredible work of Lutheran Family Services in Nebraska, and was absolutely blessed by incredible hospitality. Thanks to all in Nebraska that made my visit a highlight!

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