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ICFRC: Resettling Afghan Refugees in Iowa

Listen to an audio podcast of this program.

Since 1975, when Governor Robert Ray facilitated the resettlement of thousands displaced by the Vietnam War, Iowa has been a welcoming new home for refugees. Today, the crisis in Afghanistan requires Iowa's continued leadership to resettle 695 people from the war-torn Middle Eastern country. In partnership with agencies and nonprofits across the state, this effort will also require the support of individuals, organizations, and communities to receive these newest Iowans and to help them feel at home in their new neighborhoods. In this session, the panel will explain the complex global process of refugee resettlement, offer historical context about immigration to the state, as well as provide an insider's perspective on and an update about how the State of Iowa and the eastern Iowa region is responding to the Afghan crisis. Attendees will hopefully see the talk as a call to action, with insights offered about next steps and encouragement given to enlist others to get involved. Questions about how to welcome and support refugees from Afghanistan and countries around the world are most welcome, both during and after the presentation.

Mak Suceska serves as the Bureau Chief for the Iowa Bureau of Refugee Services alongside his role as the State of Iowa Refugee Coordinator through ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement). Mak originates from Sarajevo, Bosnia and was transplanted to Des Moines, Iowa in 1993 as a refugee, fleeing from war-torn Yugoslavia with his family. Mak's professional career has been devoted to advocating and supporting refugees across the state to promote a more equitable community for all. With over 12 years of experience in non-profits and state government, it is Mak's life journey that has provided a unique and necessary perspective in guiding his work. Mak completed his political science undergraduate studies at the University of Iowa with a double minor in religion and history. He achieved his MPA degree through Drake University with an emphasis on public policy, and he will pursue his doctorate degree in Educational Leadership at Drake University. In Mak's words, "Education, accessibility and opportunity are the keys to success".

Sara Zejnic is Director of Refugee & Immigrant Services at Catherine McCauley Center (CMC) in Cedar Rapids. After obtaining a B.A. in International Relations and Religion from Wartburg College and a M.A. in Intercultural Service, Leadership and Management from SIT Graduate Institute, Sara has dedicated her career to providing and leading supportive services to refugees as they work to find stability and safety in their new communities. In her role at the CMC, Sara is committed to ensuring that community members, partners, and local employers have the information and resources necessary to work effectively with diverse populations.

This program is the first of six programs that we will be presenting on "Refugees and Immigrants in Iowa" through May 2022. These programs are made possible by a grant from Humanities Iowa along with financial support from our members, donors, and sponsors. If you would like to make a donation to support this project, please go to: https://www.icfrc.org/donate.html to make an online donation or you can mail a check to our address below:
Iowa City Foreign Relations Council
308 E Burlington St, #282
Iowa City, IA 52240-1602

For more information on the Foreign Relations Council visit their website at www.icfrc.org.

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