Embracing “Buffalo Without Borders”


Thursday 5, the International Institute of Buffalo (IIB) has launched “Buffalo Without Borders”, an exceptional party that only IIB can throw. Not only “Buffalo Without Borders” is a huge celebration of diversity and fundraiser for IIB, but it’s also a concept that is growing in popularity and carrying with it a purpose that seeks to encourage all citizens to embrace the diversity that Buffalo has to offer and promote inclusiveness rather than exclusivity.

The “Buffalo Without Borders” event illustrates IIB’s vision for Buffalo and WNY and to presents the agency as a community builder that welcomes, celebrates, values and includes all of its residents. As suggests its name, “Buffalo Without Borders” symbolizes a boundaryless place, “a social setting with no borders to the City of good Neighbors, and to the ‘Buffalove’ we show each other,” says Eva Hassett, the Executive Director of the agency.

Among the attendees was a longtime volunteer at IIB, Gillian Cleveland, who has attended the event four times and whose impressions about the party was immense following the variety of activities that made the evening multicolorful. “I love the diversity of the dishes offered and I see the dancing as a unique treat,” Ms. Cleveland excitedly said. Ms. Cleveland pointed out that this type of event exposes the attendees to a level of diversity and connection that helps alleviate people’s fear of those foods and things they may not otherwise have experienced. “People have the ability to experience and interact with people and foods that are new to them,” says Ms. Cleveland who also explained how events like these cultivate the spirit of tolerance and acceptance.

The prestige and honor of such achievements can only be directed at IIB for what it has done for the community. IIB is a local refugee resettlement agency that has been working with refugees and immigrants since 1918. The agency seeks to strengthen Western New York by assisting refugees and immigrants to become self-reliant, informed and contributing members of the community.

In 2013, IIB resettled refugees from Burma, Bhutan, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, Iraq and Iran who joined the 9,723 refugees that the Erie County has resettled since 2003. This led to a 33% rise in the foreign-born population between 2000 and 2010. Among these new entrants is included a number of secondary migrants from other areas in the U.S. who have decided to come to Buffalo.

Buffalo, like many small cities experiencing an infusion of new residents is finding new ways to welcome its newest residents. Ms. Hassett feels that Buffalo continues to show its welcoming nature year round. Such sense of hospitality and community involvement on the part of IIB has been once again exemplified through its engagement in upcoming programs that are expected soon in the Black Rock/Riverside area.

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