Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Welcome Party at the UUSBHC: Fun in Two Languages!

On Friday, 12/16/11, twenty-five people participated in the potluck dinner at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Blackhawk County to welcome Jimy and his family members who arrived with him from Guatemala (his mother, sister, and one brother). Jimy's uncle, aunt, and cousin who already lived in Waterloo also joined the party, along with several Unitarian Universalists (UUs), local guests, and Luis Argueta, a film director who is making a documentary about Jimy's family and four others who are either in the country on a u-visa, or soon on their way. Highlights of the party included introductions in English and Spanish, in which the most common phrase was "no hablo espanol muy bien", and in which the 17 year-old Guatemalan who was brave enough to introduce himself in English was greeted with a roaring applause; a UU blessing in English and Spanish; attempts at conversation in both languages; and some really great food. My personal favorite moment of the evening was when two of the children from the UU congregation (ages 10 and 8) asked me to invite the two youngest Guatemalan visitors (13 and 10) to play a game, and then watching the four children playing together without regard to language or cultural barriers for the rest of the evening. With all of the socializing, we ran out of time for playing music... so, another party may be in order once remaining family members arrive!

The family has been staying with Jimy's uncle and aunt this week, who have helped Jimy get settled in to their temporary home, sort through  donations of clothing, blankets, and more (thank you to all who contributed!), get Jimy signed up for his Social Security card, get kids registered for school, get vaccinations, and more.

We are still looking for housing for Jimy and family in Waterloo, and hope that they will be able to move in to their own place at the beginning of January. Funds from the NE Iowa Peace & Justice Center in Decorah will cover rent for a few months until the adult family members can begin work. If you know of any available housing, please email

Please see the wish list (link above) for additional items and other types of help still needed by the family, and stay tuned to this blog for more information as it becomes available.  

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