Overcoming barriers at Akron Crossings

By Morgan McGrath Akron Crossings is in North Hill, tucked among a long stretch of residential areas. Bena Paisley is the founder of this non-profit, community-centric organization, and her central goal is to help refugees adjust to the United States through the guidance of Christianity.  “I encourage them [refugees] to be patient with themselves, and that they really can do this, ‘cuz it’s overwhelming sometimes,” she said.  After speaking with local residents in North Hill, Paisley realized they all mentioned their need to overcome language barriers.  “I was a staff member at a church, and we started Crossings as a...

Overcoming obstacles in refugee healthcare

By Alencia Lang Sujata Burgess commutes between the Akron and Cleveland locations of the International Community Health Center (ICHC). When asked what her responsibilities included, she said “everything” with a light laugh. As the director of operations, she is behind all of the administrative work for the ICHC, including overseeing safety procedures, ordering medical supplies, and hiring and training new staff. The job is full of problem solving. She said she never knows what she is going to walk into each day. ICHC located at E 370 Market St. Akron, OH. Photo by Alencia Lang. After earning a master’s degree...

How one organization helps refugees get their citizenship

By Helena Sepulveda “When I moved here, I discovered that Akron was a refugee city, and I didn’t really know what that meant, " said Pastor Cary Duckett, a California native who is the executive director of the International Welcome Center. The center is a faith-based organization that works to assist refugees in becoming acclimated to their life in the United States.  "So I began to research… and I discovered that in Akron there are thousands of refugees… and they are all on a path to citizenship."Pastor cary duckett Love sign in North Hill International District. Photo by Grace Christopher....

Nepali refugees share their culture in Akron through food

Restaurants like Nepali Kitchen help add unique flavors to North Hill By Andrew Kuder Nepali Kitchen, Akron, Ohio. Photo by Andrew Kuder. Akron’s North Hill area is nicknamed “Akron’s International District.” It features restaurants, grocery stores and more businesses from Afghan, Nepali, Karen, Bhutanese, and Vietnamese refugees, among many other groups. A majority of these places are run by refugees, and they offer the chance for locals to connect with their cultures in fun and interesting ways. Right on Cuyahoga Falls Avenue is Nepali Kitchen, which employs refugees from Nepal. It’s the type of place many might not notice at...

Starting over in Akron

by Kelly Krabill Fazal Baryalai and his family look at pictures from their time in Afghanistan. They arrived in Akron two years ago on a Special Immigrant Visa. Photo by Kelly Krabill When Fazal Baryalai awoke on a Saturday morning in March after a late night driving Uber customers, his family was already downstairs. Shai tea, an Arabic drink served to visitors, was already in a pitcher on the coffee table waiting to be poured into ornately designed crystal glasses. As I sipped the warm drink on that snowy day in Akron, Zahida, Baryalai’s wife, slipped into the kitchen and...

‘My favorite thing is driving’: Afghan women embrace independence in Akron

By Catie Pusateri Tamana Ziar, 23, left Afghanistan with her family in July 2022, just weeks before the Taliban took control of her country. Photo courtesy of Tamana Ziar. Every year on March 21, Tamana Ziar and her extended family gather to celebrate Nowruz, the Persian New Year. They meet in Paghman, a town just outside Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul, for picnics and games to celebrate the coming of spring.  Her family members would play soccer together, and her parents even join in volleyball games. Ziar and her sister had bicycles that they would ride, soaking up the sun...