Over 200 St. Louis refugees celebrate their first Thanksgiving - KMOV.com

Over 200 St. Louis refugees celebrate their first Thanksgiving

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Over 200 new refugees in the St. Louis area are enjoying their first Thanksgiving and learning about America's holiday traditions. (Credit: KMOV) Over 200 new refugees in the St. Louis area are enjoying their first Thanksgiving and learning about America's holiday traditions. (Credit: KMOV)
SOUTH ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -

Over 200 new refugees in the St. Louis area enjoyed their first Thanksgiving and learned about America's holiday traditions.

It's a meal that's been hosted by the International Institute of St. Louis for the last 25 years for all new St. Louis residents. 

About 70 refugees came for dinner and 220 showed up for lunch. Both meals started off with sing "This Land is Your Land," followed by games to practice counting and measuring using Thanksgiving themed foods. The guessed how many acorns were in a jar and measured the circumference of a pumpkin. Those who guessed correctly were able to win a take-home Thanksgiving meal. 

The refugees lined up for a buffet style Thanksgiving meal. Everything was traditional, with one exception.

"We have traditional turkey and then we also have halal turkey, which has been blessed in a certain way," said Anna Crosslin, the president and CEO of the International Institute.

She said 30 different countries were represented at the Thanksgiving dinner. "I come from Vietnam," said Hai Giana, a refugee who is really thankful to be in St. Louis. "I very like, I like it," said Giana. 

All of these refugees have been in St. Louis less than a year. They came to St. Louis because the International Institute picked them. The chosen refugees wanted to come to America based off the languages they offer and the jobs available to these refugees.

"I love St. Louis so much because I traveled 14 states but I love St. Louis. I love the people, very nice. People are so funny," said Diep Nguyen, a Vietnam refugee who's been in St. Louis for 6 months. "In my country we don't have turkey," said Nguyen. 

For these refugees, the gratitude goes way beyond this meal. "Giving thanks started the day they received a number and knew that they were going to have a visa and come to the United State," said Crosslin. 

"Thank you for the new country, America," said Giana.

"Thank you for America," said Nguyen. 

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