Refugees in Tucson enjoy their first Thanksgiving

Refugees in Tucson enjoy their first Thanksgiving

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Thanksgiving is the All-American holiday, and dozens of refugees joined together this year to celebrate their very first one together.

Desert Courtyard Apartments played host to the families, who brought their own traditional dishes to be served alongside the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce.

Tek Neopany, who spent 17 years in Nepal after fleeing his home in Bhutan, said he enjoys learning more about American culture. Though he's been in the states for years, the recently nationalized U.S. citizen said this kind of large celebration is a first for his family.

"We didn't know what Thanksgiving is all about," said Neopany. "It's a fascinating festival! So we all cultures get together and celebrate."

Volunteers with Iskashitaa and St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church helped to organize the event. They picked the apartment complex for the meal because most of the refugees live there and spend time in the nearby community garden.

Barbara Eiswerth, director of Iskashitaa, said it's important for people to understand the positive impact refugee families have on the community.

"They have so much to teach us, and we can teach them," she said. "Our city is enriched by their adding this diversity to Tucson."

The refugees also add fresh produce. Their work with Iskashitaa gleaning fruit and harvesting the community garden has generated roughly 100,000 pounds of produce annually.

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