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Celebrate culture at Buffalo Without Borders

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Buffalo is incredibly accommodating to immigrants, drawing an influx of Southeast Asians, Africans and Middle Eastern families over the last decade. Their multitude of stories—some of them heartwarming, others stirring due to the persecution and escape—are a vital part of our cultural fabric, one that’s becoming more complex, diverse and inspiring by the day.

Join in the celebration of these stories at Buffalo Without Borders, an annual fundraiser for the International Institute of Buffalo. The festivities run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Asbury Hall, 341 Delaware Ave. at Tupper, Buffalo. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased here.

The food and entertainment at the event will reflect the cultures of the refugees, as Ethiopian and Burmese restaurants will offer food while Bhutanese, Burmese and Middle Eastern refugees will entertain through music and dance. As the release notes, Italian bakery B. Ferrante, 218 Grant St., Buffalo, will allow guests to sample its fare as well.


The IIB is a not-for-profit organization that helps refugees learn the English language and adapt to a new culture. Through generous donations and the efforts of volunteers, more than 200 people daily are lent assistance, whether it’s through a language program, the answer to a simple question or guidance in grasping job skills.

The burgeoning populations of Burmese, Iraqis, Somalis, Bhutanese and Ethiopians are not isolated in the West Side, either. You’ll see them shopping in Black Rock, walking through the Elmwood Village or playing soccer at the Rumsey field in Delaware Park in addition to Grant and Niagara streets. From my experience through pickup soccer, the vast majority of the refugees I’ve encountered are remarkably welcoming and friendly, often eager to discuss the favorite aspects of their native cultures.

(Photos courtesy of Nate LaFrance from the 2011 Buffalo Without Borders event—see the full gallery here). (Food photo taken by Ben Tsujimoto from Lucy Takeout gallery).

TAGGED: asbury hall, buffalo without borders, international institute of buffalo

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