Salisbury’s first World Refugee Day celebration holds special meaning

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, June 19, 2024

SALISBURY — Grace Gbunblee Knight is no stranger to the immigrant experience. A first-generation American, her family relocated to the United States from the West African nation of Liberia in the 1990s.

Knight brings her personal background and her professional training in social work, project management, and community outreach to her new role as resettlement director of Lutheran Services Carolinas’ (LSC’s) New Americans Program in Salisbury.

Before joining LSC in March, Knight most recently led community projects in West Africa and North Carolina with Sister Circle Mentorship Foundation. A graduate of Winston-Salem State University, she holds a master’s degree in psychology from Southern New Hampshire University and Project Management Plus certification from Central Piedmont Community College.

“I recently lost my father,” said Knight, “and I keep thinking about the impact he and my mother made on so many lives. They were able to aide in resettling over 40 family members and other Liberians to the United States after escaping Liberia’s civil war.

“Having the opportunity to make an impact as the Resettlement Director for LSC’s New Americans Program is truly a full-circle moment and nothing short of a blessing,” she added. “I intend to give my best to all of our families resettling to the United States through the New Americans Program, by equipping them with the tools needed to be successful in their new life.”

Knight is especially excited to showcase the New American experience during World Refugee Day on Thursday, June 20, from 4 to 8 p.m. at Bell Tower Green, 101 South Church Street.

World Refugee Day is an annual, international commemoration established by the United Nations to honor and raise awareness of those forced to flee their home nations due to conflict or persecution.

At Salisbury’s free, community celebration presented by LSC, refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Colombia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Iran, Liberia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela will greet attendees and share their stories. Some will perform poems and dances from their countries of origin.

World Refugee Day will also feature a bounce house for children and fun activities for all ages, including face painting, a henna artist, a DJ, and free snow cones. Refreshments will be available for purchase from food trucks including Mean Mug and Taqueria Lucero.