Separately, we speak many different languages. But today, we all speak one language. That language is soccer.
Those remarks (more or less accurate) were part of the welcome to the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Redeemer Cup by main sponsor Chobani‘s CEO Hamdi Ulukaya. Ulukaya was one of the speakers getting the waiting teams and crowd pumped up and ready for the 3rd annual Redeemer Cup Soccer Tournament.
Saturday June 2nd at Proctor Park in Utica began rainy and cold, but it seems as though the excitement for the Redeemer Cup burned it away. Upon arriving to the festivities I found over a dozen different brightly colored shirts milling around and getting organized, with team names on the back representing ethnic refugee groups and refugee community organizations such as the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees and Redeemer Church. At about 10:30 the procession of teams began – truly a sight to see. Each group marched through the crowd lead by a flag and sign holder. The signs signified the ethnic group, followed by the world American – i.e. “Polish American” or “Iraqi American” – as Redeemer Church’s Pastor Rick Andrews said, no matter where we come from, we are all Americans now. Each team that processed by was bursting with pride, but as the groups assembled there was a lot of interaction with the other groups.
Finally, the whistle blew and soccer began. Games continued on four fields throughout Saturday and into Sunday, with lots of friendly competition. Many members of both the refugee and local community came to support their friends and neighbors. Sunday’s final game came down to the Bosnian American team vs Liberian American, with Bosnian ultimately coming out on top!
Check out a preview of Starting Over’s photos below:
Save the Dates! This year, World Refugee Day 2012 is being celebrated by the Mohawk Valley Resource Center with a series of events in June.
Saturday, June 16- Family fun at the Utica Public Library
Tuesday, June 19- Short film showing at the Uptown Theatre – Hard Truth, Levity & Hope (also was shown at the 2011 UNSPOKEN Film Festival)
Wednesday, June 20- Culture Fair at DeSales Auditorium
Saturday June 23- Bookfair at Barnes & Noble
Members from Starting Over will definitely be celebrating world refugee day, talking with the community and getting photo and video footage for our gallery project. We hope to see you there!
For more info, visit the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees here.
The motto of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees (MVRCR) is “Many Cultures, One Community” – something the organization really celebrates. The MVRCR takes in about 500 refugees a year in cooperation with state and federal government agencies.
The Mission of the MVRCR…
We promote the well-being of culturally diverse individuals and families within our community by welcoming our new neighbors, refugees and immigrants, and by providing individual and community-centered activities designed to create opportunity and facilitate understanding.
Here are just some of the services that the MVCC offers:
Refugee Health and Family
Services and Referrals
Interpretation and Translation
Immigration and Naturalization
Cultural Competence Training
English as a Second Language
Events include World Refugee Day, International Mile at the Boilermaker, Passport to the World and more.
MVCRC’s 2011 Open House on World Refugee Day was featured by The Couch Utica, a local group documenting community appreciation through film. The Couch was able to interview many refugees who have come through the center on why they love Utica along with local community members who have come from different backgrounds around the world.
Here’s an interview with then-Executive Director Peter Vogelaar about the MVRCR and how the center affects the Utica community and vice versa: