WT’s SIFE hosts Boots and Sandals for refugees

Ryan Schaap

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SIFE students helping with Boots and Sandals event. Photo courtesy of Gimmy Tseng.

SIFE students helping with Boots and Sandals event. Photo courtesy of Gimmy Tseng.

WTAMU SIFE has teamed up with the Diversity program to give refugees from Asia another chance to succeed in life here in Texas. The refugees are mostly from Asian countries such as Saudi Arabia, Congo and Burma. The event, called Boots and Sandals took place on Nov. 18 and created three years ago as an opportunity for refugees to spend time socializing and to have fun with students from SIFE.

“This is what we call ‘awaking the dream’; we incorporate refugees to assimilate the American culture,” said Marco Jimenez, president and CEO of SIFE. “This event is a great time for them to get together and mingle, share the American experience and when we supply food for them and the entertainment, it is very special to them.”

SIFE has been helping refugees for eight years adapt to the American culture through education, financial and living.“We take the refugees to the malls and restaurants and give them a look at the American culture,” said Cedric Nguimatsa, a junior Marketing major. “We help them with school, tutor them, GED tests, and help with job searches. We also bring them to football games and basketball games as well as homecoming.”

SIFE also helps the parents and adults of the refugees adapt to the American culture.

“We help prepare the parents to get a job because according to law, they have a certain time that the government will support them until they need to able to live in America by themselves,” said Jimenez. “We help them get a driver’s license, social security, get a job, and help them with English.”

SIFE recently hosted the refugees at the Green Acres Apartments, where they played “Just Dance 2” for the Nintendo Wii on a projector screen. Both locals and refugees had fun taking turns dancing with the silhouettes on the game while spaghetti was served. Nguimatsa says that this is the first time some of the kids have actually seen a Wii.

Many of the younger refugees have many questions to ask about the American culture.

“Many of the younger refugees ask about computers and iPhones because they are very curious about how technology works,” said Nguimatsa. “This is one of the many things that we as Americans can take for granted.”

One of the young refugees, a 15 year-old named Halimaby, is from Thailand and lives with her uncle Dakafar in Tascosa. She likes school and the English people. Math is her favorite subject in school and her favorite food is the McDonald’s cheeseburger.

“They [SIFE] help us with homework and they are very good people,” said Halimaby.

Web Editor’s Note: To see all the photos of this event, click here!

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WT’s SIFE hosts Boots and Sandals for refugees