The U-S State Department will hold a town meeting in Iowa next week to discuss the influx of refugees to the state and how the refugees are impacting Iowa’s workforce. The town meeting is co-sponsored by the World Food Prize Foundation. Food Prize executive director Kenneth Quinn says the meeting comes 25 years after Iowa took in thousands of refugees from Cambodia and Vietnam. He says the meeting has two goals, to look back at Iowa’s historic role in helping refugees and then to discuss what the new wave of immigration means for the state.Quinn worked for former Governor Robert Ray when Ray made the decision to have Iowa take the lead in finding new homes for the Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees. Quinn says it was not something that everyone immediately embraced.Quinn says the issues are much the same today as Bosnian and Sudanese refugees come to our state looking for a new way of life. Ann Schodde is the executive director of the Iowa Council for International Understanding. She says many communities are experiencing an influx of new people from all around the world. Schodde says in most cases the new people bring a new diversity to the communities, but admits there are problems integrating people who look and talk differently.Schodde says it’s up to Iowans to once again meet the challenge of a growing refugee population.Former Governor Ray, Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson and an Assistant Secretary of State with expertise in refugee issues will take part in the town meeting. The meeting is scheduled for April 25th in Des Moines.
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