On Thursday, October 7, the International Institute of Buffalo will be hosting its “Buffalo Meets Burma” fundraiser to promote awareness of Buffalo’s Burmese population amongst members of the local community.
The event will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Asbury Hall at Babeville, located at 341 Delaware Avenue. Tickets will be $35 and all proceeds will go toward the International Institute to help them continue to provide services to their clients.
According to executive director Eva Hassett, the International Institute is largely funded by government grants and often relies on the local community for financial support in order to continue helping their clients assimilate into the community. Thus, they host these fundraisers as a means to raise local awareness about Buffalo’s cultural diversity, while also raising money to support the Institute itself.
“As we thought about this year’s event, we felt that the large number of new Buffalonians from Burma–more than 3,000 live here now, we are told–was a good reason to try to raise local awareness about Burma and our new neighbors,” Hassett said. “Five years ago, there were about 50 Burmese immigrants. To go from 50 to possibly 4,000 is significant, especially in a city that has been losing population.”
According to Hassett, many of Buffalo’s Burmese residents are refugees who have come here to escape social and political oppression. This event will be a way to educate the local community about Burmese culture and to help the incoming Burmese population connect with the natives of their new home.
The event’s guests will be able to learn about their Burmese neighbors by experiencing a variety of their customs. A blessing will be made by local monks and the Karenni Dance Troupe will perform traditional dances. Music will be performed by DJ Dr. Mark Wisz of Deja Blu. Guests can also see slideshows of photographs by Buffalo’s Brendan Bannon and Burma’s Law Eh Soe, as well as two short films about the Institute and some of its friends from Burma, produced by Jon Hand with the help of the Baird Foundation.
Wegmans and Kevin Lin–the “Oriental Sushi King”, will contribute Burmese-inspired food and sushi. The Premier Group and Opici will be providing wine and DeCamillo’s and ChocoLogo will be providing desserts. Guests can enjoy Burmese crafts, such as messenger bags by Lin Naing, and will also have the chance to learn a few phrases in the Burmese language.
Hassett hopes that this event will help Buffalo convey its welcoming spirit as “the City of Good Neighbors.” “We feel that people coming to Buffalo from other countries are now a significant part of our community, and that is a huge positive for Buffalo,” she said. “New Buffalo is international in so many ways, and we are excited to be a small part of that happening.”
The event is being sponsored by M&T Bank and The Buffalo News, with additional support from Wegmans, Hodgson Russ Attorneys, the Walsh Insurance Group, Riyaz Hassanali, M.D., Friends of Tony Masiello, WBFO 88.7, and many volunteers.
Tickets and additional information
can be obtained by visiting the event’s website or calling 716-380-8565. Tickets can also be purchased at the
International Institute of Buffalo, located at 864 Delaware Avenue.
Images by: Law Eh Soe