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Celebrating cultures old and new in Lackawanna County

People from all over the world gathered in Scranton Saturday to celebrate cultures old and new.

SCRANTON, Pa. — World Refugee Day shines a light on the rights, needs, and dreams of refugees. And many of those seeking a new life have found themselves here in Lackawanna County.

"Scranton has immigrant roots when you think back to the coal mining era people were coming here for work and opportunity and now we have new refugees coming from all over the world facing war and persecution in their homelands finding a new place to live so it is important for us to welcome them as neighbors," said Julie Schumacher Cohen, Community Engagement, University of Scranton.

Several community groups came together to host a World Refugee Day celebration at YMS of R Grove in Scranton. Community members say it's easy to lose perspective on other people's situations just looking from the outside. 

"I just came back from the bishops' conference in San Diego and we had an opening mass right at the border and you could see the walls. And if you are born on one side your life is one experience and if you are born on the other life is different," said Joseph Bambera, Bishop of Scranton.

While it's a day to celebrate the resilience of the people who made it out of conflict, it's a grim reminder of what life is like for those still in their homeland.

"We celebrate world refugee day today but for us, it is sad because it reminds us of what is going on in our country and the pressures of the families that are living in refugee camps and the poverty and homelessness," said Ushu Mukelo, President Congolese Community of Scranton.

People gathered to share their country's rich culture and reflect on the new opportunities presented to them since coming to the states.

"For us, it's an opportunity to go to school as young people, have children prepare to find jobs and be able to work and to be able to purchase property around," said Ushu.

"Life is still a struggle but slowly day by day we are getting there. We are proud to be here and now we naturalize and are proud to be US citizens," said Csandra Sitaula, Bhutanses Cultural Foundation.

"When I come here were two and five so we grew up here with our family too I see every culture and people and languages I love to be here," said Nanda Lagun, Bhutan.

World Refugee Day will be officially honored on Monday.

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