It was August, but a cool breeze kept everyone comfortable beneath the dark wooden arches of the pavilion. Covered dishes crowded two long tables. I had peeked beneath every foil covering and inside every cling-wrapped container, and, like I do every Thanksgiving, I wondered when someone would finally decide it was time to eat. There were familiar dishes like mac-and-cheese and unfamiliar offerings, like chat masala.
(photo credit: Yahya Sami Alseiha)
Orange shirts were everywhere, and we weren’t at a UT football game! The shirts welcomed everyone who entered in their own language. Drums echoed beyond the doors, beckoning us all into the space. Smiles played across every face—volunteers and visitors.
Where was I? At this year’s World Refugee Day celebration: one day marked to celebrate people from many nations who have immigrated to the United States, escaping violence and oppression while bringing beauty and creativity to metro Knoxville.
Clapping and cheers erupted from the middle of the gym. Another assembly line had completed another box of mac-n-cheese packs. Another table wasn’t far behind. Their assembly line of ten people completed a box—192 individual packets—with high-fives and cheers. Then they immediately started another box. The boxes were stacking up against the opposite wall, coming from ten assembly lines, and it was only 10:30am. By the end of the day, there were 45,000 meals in more than 220 boxes.
Read the stories of Knoxville's local internationals and the volunteers who have impacted their lives. Get a first-hand view of what it's like to move here and/or to serve those who've moved here from other countries. Discover how KIN has impacted life and culture in metro Knoxville.