Author: JMC Mosaic

Program helps inspire refugee to tackle dream career in childhood home

By Lindsay Esparrago During her four years at Lincoln High School, Moo Ku Taw went from feeling like an outsider — incapable of fitting in — to a confident, soon-to-be graduate. “During my first few weeks in school, I felt like an alien from another planet,” Taw said. “Not being able to speak English, I felt isolated and invisible.” For the 18-year-old, the transition from Thailand to America in 2008 was like walking in a storm with a strong wind. She’d get knocked over, just to get back up again. And again and again and again. But she didn’t overcome...

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Iraq refugee helps students build friendships with high school club

By Alexa West The first several years Raghad Alshammary spent in the United States were not easy. As a refugee from Baghdad, Iraq, she experienced bullying, difficulty with language barriers and cultural differences. These tribulations inspired the 17-year-old to help other multicultural students by creating the International Students Club at North Star High School. With the help of Cara Morgenson, a second-year English Language Learner teacher at North Star, the organization came to life five months ago in January 2016. “We decided to put the club together because we wanted people to not feel strange and alone,” said Alshammary,...

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New Omaha arts program provides refugees with a creative outlet

By Ashley Wolff Eh Paw sits on the floor of a classroom at the Refugee Empowerment Center in Omaha and weaves a scarf. She concentrates on the ins and outs of the yarn on the homemade back-strap loom. “I want to tell my people’s story,” said Paw, who learned how to weave in the Umphiem refugee camp in Thailand, where art and music were an important medium for storytelling. Paw, a Karen refugee from Myanmar (Burma), was resettled to Omaha about two years ago through the Refugee Empowerment Center. The center provides resources for incoming refugees, including airport pickups,...

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Yazidi teen aspires to help community as a Lincoln police officer

By Josh Kelly In Sheikhan, Iraq, police officers are only found at checkpoints surrounding the city. If a criminal can drive or run fast enough, they can usually get away — unpunished. Diana Elias didn’t like that. When she came to the United States in 2010 as a 13-year-old and saw police officers out in the community helping people, she realized she wanted to wear the uniform herself. Her ultimate goal is to become the Lincoln Police Department’s  first Iraqi officer. Right now, the 19-year-old Yazidi is a step closer; she recently began an internship at the University of...

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Omaha refugee center’s resettlement program sees growth, change

By Elizabeth Moran  The new program director of resettlement and integration at Omaha’s Refugee Empowerment Center is ready for the challenge of increasing resettlement numbers and overseeing a growing staff. The center adopted a new name, developed a new brand and refined its mission in 2015. For the center’s resettlement and placement program, that means more workers hired, more refugees to resettle and more efforts resettling all populations, said Michaela Brown, the new program director. “It’s promising for Omaha’s future. We’ve hired a few new people like myself,” Brown said. “We’re shaking up things and showing what we’re capable...

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