Immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees had the opportunity to experience their first Thanksgiving in St. Louis on Tuesday, a few days early.
The annual event held by the International Institute of St. Louis included games, raffle tickets and a group rendition of the classic folk song, “This Land is Your Land.”
There were even the Thanksgiving food favorites like turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and cranberry sauce in the dining hall.
Anna E. Crosslin, president and CEO of the institute, said the celebration is a moment for the hosts and the new arrivals to share a sense of gratitude.
“For many of the people that are here for the annual Thanksgiving celebration, it’s really also about giving thanksgiving to them,” Crosslin said. “Feeling thankful for their being here as opposed to in what war torn country they may have been in the year before. The international institute really started this event for that reason.”
Roughly 375 people were expected to attend the event.
Among those sharing the meal was Hussain Moin, an asylum-seeker from Afghanistan living in St. Louis. He’s been here for five months, and says this holiday season he’s thankful for the United States. He said he remains hopeful that he’ll be able to settle in St. Louis soon.
"I think there is a lot of opportunity,” Moin said. “I can protect my life here and the people are very nice and they can welcome everybody.”
So far in 2018, the institute has provided services to more than 7,500 foreign-born people.
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