Refugees from Liberia explain key to success at US Citizen Honor Dinner

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BETTENDORF, IOWA — Quad City community leaders and naturalized citizens sat down for a meal and a chance to build relationships at the first US Citizen Honor Dinner at the Islamic Center Mosque.

The idea came from witnessing a naturalization ceremony.

"We thought, wow, this is really neat. They're doing great things. They're honoring us by choosing to come [to the United States], we need to honor them. That's the primary reason for it, but a secondary reason is to help educate the community on them and their cultures," said Grant Curtis, President of the Quad Cities Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees (QCAIR).

Curtis said the event will give community leaders a chance to talk with the local immigrant and refugee community. About 75 people from all over the world and the Quad Cities attended the dinner on Saturday, September 17th.

"We were able to travel here and got settled in the Quad Cities, which I believe is one of the best and calm places to raise family," said Isaac Carr, sitting next to his wife Ophelia. In 2004, they came to the United States from a war torn West Africa and became naturalized United States in 2014.

Ophelia and Isaac take pride in being active members of the community, something they believe is the key to successfully adjusting to life in the Quad Cities.

"Whatever culture that is practiced in other countries, you have to integrate into this culture and you can also integrate your culture practice within those values," said Isaac, adding that the honor dinner is an example of a way to integrate into the community.

For Isaac, it's important for him and his family to remember their Liberian culture while making an effort to adapt to the culture in the United States. Isaac and Ophelia Caar raise their family in Rock Island, Illinois.

QCAIR is hoping to host a few US Citizen Honor Dinners throughout the year.