At World Refugee Day Event in Turlock Many Gather in Solidarity

TURLOCK -- Though there is so much uncertainty surrounding immigration, many refugees gathered together Thursday to celebrate World Refugee Day.

To those outside the Assyrian American Civic Club of Turlock, they are known as refugees, but inside, they have a different term -- friends.

"In this type of event, he feels that he is not alone in his pain and suffering," said Reza Qolizadeh. "Other people have gone through this, even though their stories are different."

Qolizadeh is from Iran and after years of turmoil in the country, he received help from the United Nations. He spent three years in Turkey before making his way to Turlock two years ago.

He spoke to FOX40 through his Modesto Junior College ESL teacher, Gilda Ekhtiar.

"For many reasons people leave Iran. But he, in particular, he was working in a newspaper and he was a blog writer and he felt that whatever he was saying or writing he was in danger. So that’s why he felt like he had to leave," Qolizadeh said.

FOX40 was unable to film the World Refugee event because many attendees do not want their faces shown for fear of persecution.

Speakers shared their experiences since arriving in the U.S. and booths were available for refugees to sign up for English as a Second Language classes and other aid to have a smooth transition into U.S. life.

"It will remind us of the thing of when we got here first we had nothing. We did not know anyone else," said Temor Shah.

Shah came to the U.S. from Afghanistan 10 years ago, after serving as an interpreter for U.S. armed forces starting in 2002.

"They granted us a visa to take our families to a safer place, to the United States. We are truly appreciative and we are happy about having the fortune to get the visa granted," Shah said.

Both men said they are thankful for the government aid available to refugees, but though Reza believes some sort of travel ban is necessary for those traveling illegally to the U.S., he hopes one day borders will be open for everyone.

"At the end, he hopes that one day there will be no war, no refugees and everyone will live in peace," Qolizadeh said.

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