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Fort Wayne Resident Looks For Answers At Assimilation Discussion

Araceli Gomez-Aldana

The YWCA of Northeast Indiana hosts monthly Diversity Dialogues. Earlier this month, the organization focused on the Burmese culture and how to help refugees assimilate to U.S. culture. 

Nicole King has lived in Fort Wayne for 20 years. She attended the discussion because she wants to be a better friend. 

“This is my friend Ms. Paw and she and I are friends in spirit and we are looking to be friends verbally,” said King.

King’s friend, Ms. Paw, is a refugee and now lives in Fort Wayne. The two met after King began tutoring Ms. Paw’s daughter. King says they are friends even though they don’t understand each other.

“We like each other, we like the same things even if we can’t communicate. We love our children, we love to cook, we like to garden. I know that this is my friend and I don’t know how to express it, other than to say I know this is my friend in spirit and mind. We’re just working on the verbal part,” said King.

The diversity dialogue was facilitated by Catholic Charities Resettlement Director Nyein Chan.

During the discussion, King asked if there were opportunities for locals to learn about the Burmese culture. She says it’s not enough for them to assimilate to us.

“I feel like it’s very assimilation driven. I know that a part of my history is missing because of the assimilation process of the United States. So yes, ours was slavery, and yes they’re a refugee, but it’s still very much assimilation driven,” added King.

For now, King is trying to learn Burmese and more about the Burmese culture. She is currently developing a new program with the Allen County Public Library. The program will focus on bring people together. The goal is to promote learning about diverse cultures.