Refugees experience first Thanksgiving at Ethiopian community center in Arlington

Refugees enjoyed their first Thanksgiving dinner at a potluck buffet hosted in Arlington, Virginia. (WTOP/Liz Anderson)
Refugees enjoyed their first Thanksgiving dinner at a potluck buffet hosted in Arlington, Virginia. (WTOP/Liz Anderson)
Refugees enjoyed their first Thanksgiving dinner at a potluck buffet hosted in Arlington, Virginia. (WTOP/Liz Anderson)
Refugees enjoyed their first Thanksgiving dinner at a potluck buffet hosted in Arlington, Virginia. (WTOP/Liz Anderson)
Refugees enjoyed their first Thanksgiving dinner at a potluck buffet hosted in Arlington, Virginia. (WTOP/Liz Anderson)
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It was a buffet feast at the Ethiopian Community Development Council at the 8th annual Refugees’ First Thanksgiving.

Sunday night’s free event was a prequel to the actual holiday, at the council’s center in Arlington, Virginia.

“This is a holiday that is celebrated in many American homes … since families will be staying with their families at home, we thought we would do the pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving so that people have an opportunity to come together and celebrate,” Tsehaye Teferra, CEO of the Ethiopian Community Development Council, told those attending the potluck.

A tapestry of some of the world’s cultures were represented at the Refugees’ First Thanksgiving.

“There are traditional dishes, and then we have volunteers bringing in American traditional dishes, so just a really fun thing to see,” said Yariana Rodriguez, the Resource Development Manager at the Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc.

“From my country, we have a very delicious kebab, Afghani kebab,” said Nasir Ahmadzai. It was his first time at the event. He brought two dishes to share at the potluck.

Some volunteers made a slight trek to be there.

“This is our second year coming from Ashburn, about 45 minutes away,” said Micheal Mullen. His daughter, Sitota, is originally from Ethiopia.

“I like cooking, helping in the kitchen and setting up. It’s really fun. I like hanging out with people and making new friends,” she said.

Nathan Easington is a Howard University student who helped prepare some food.

“There were about 50, 60 chickens that we broke down which was quite a bit.”

Attending and volunteering at the dinner was one way Easington is continuing his family’s tradition of community service — even though he’ll be away from them this Thanksgiving.

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