‘Sorano’ event still on today
SILVERTHORNE – Friends of the local immigrant community say they can think of nothing more important to do today than show their support after Wednesday’s Federal Bureau of Investigation and Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid and resulting arrest of three West Africans in Silverthorne.
After the arrests, the first reaction was that members of the West African community would be too afraid to come to today’s planned “Sorano” event. But members of the West African Community Care Team – a group sponsored by the Lord of the Mountains Lutheran church in Dillon that helps West Africans assimilate into the community – said there is no reason for them to be scared.
The “Sorano” is named after a traditional gathering place in Senegal for the culture’s most respected artists. It will begin at 5 p.m. today at the Silverthorne Pavilion.
“The people working here and making their contribution, there is no reason for them to be shy or be scared,” said Jim Gulley, care team coordinator. “The event is a chance to give them confidence that they don’t have to be afraid, and that the community supports them.”
Gulley said local West Africans were shocked Wednesday when they learned that local police and FBI authorities detained several immigrants and arrested three in what officials said was a joint investigation to identify individuals in violation of immigration laws.
“The surprise appearance and reported brandishing of weapons by agents as they entered some apartments has created a chill among the West Africans,” Gulley said. “Some thought we should cancel the planned West African cultural night, but after discussing the situation with our West African friends we agreed that it is more important than ever for us to come together to build our friendships.”
Cat Morrison, with the Family Intercultural Resource Center, said she expects drummers to begin the entertainment portion of the event tonight, but the stage also will be open to singers, dancers, poets and other musicians.
Morrison said Boubacar, a popular entertainer who performed at the Pavilion the past two years for Celebrations Around the World, also is expected to entertain tonight.
Bethany Lambrecht, a Summit High School French teacher and member of the community care team, said many of the local West African immigrants were forced out of their homes in Mauritania, which is north of Senegal, and lived in refugee camps in Senegal before coming to America seeking asylum.
The West Africans speak individual tribal languages, but French is a common language among the immigrants, so Lambrecht invited students from Summit’s middle and high schools to attend the event to interact with the West Africans.
The French Honor Society at Summit High will coordinate games and other activities to encourage communication among attendees. A game known as “Mencala” will be organized, Lambrecht said.
“It’s very simple. I’ve seen kids play it in the dirt with stones,” she said. “The students will use it to put people across (from) one another and interact.”
A potluck dinner will be served, so guests are asked to bring a non-pork dish to share. A cooking demonstration is planned, and soft drinks and coffee will be provided.
There is no charge, but event organizers said donations are welcome.
Kim Marquis can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 249 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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