During the first weekend of December, USCRI Vermont’s clients, staff, and volunteers gathered to enjoy the 25th Annual Vermont International Festival. The festival brings together performers, musicians, cooks, and vendors from throughout the community and of any and all ethnic backgrounds to share in three days of honoring culture and diversity. This year, USCRI/VRRP’s booth featured educational information about our programs, a multicultural snowflake making station, and an opportunity for all age groups and nationalities to welcome recently arrived refugees to Vermont through sharing their definition of home.
Many festival-goers agree that the highlight of this year’s festival was the International Fashion Show, also organized by USCRI. Clients, staff members, and volunteers came together Friday evening and Saturday morning to prepare for their midday fashion show. Many of the models wore traditional clothing from their home countries, while others chose from a collection of international outfits that have been collected by the festival organizers over the years. Some of the countries represented included Bhutan, Burma, Bosnia, Burundi, Ghana, India, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Somalia, and Sudan. Not only were onlookers delighted by the varying outfits, but the crowds were also wowed by a number of performances. Two young Nepali dancers performed and a short performance was given by USCRI/VRRP director Amila Merdzanovic and two other Bosnian women and former clients of USCRI/VRRP. The festival and fashion show were hugely successful in celebrating our clients and their place within the community and acts as a way of bringing together all members of the community.