St. Louis areas newest immigrants celebrate their first Thanksgiving

ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – There are any number of reasons that many of these people are giving thanks today. But the biggest reason might be that this is their first Thanksgiving in America in their new home town of St. Louis Missouri.

'I`m very glad to be here and thankful,' says Ayman Anwan, New St. Louisan.  'Thankful for the government of the United States for accepting us and for the community of St. Louis and all of the American people.'

Ayman Anwan is a Syrian refugee getting acclimated to his new American home and St. Louis Neighbors.

For 97 years, the International Institute of St. Louis has been helping and welcoming refugees and immigrants to the area.

A long-time contributor to their Thanksgiving meal and singing tradition none other than the grandson of Syrian refugees, Mayor Francis Slay.

'I want them to hear it from the mayor of our city that this is something we`re doing because we want to,' says Mayor Francis Slay/Democrat.  'We want them to succeed.  We want their families to have a quality of life that we want our families to have.  And that we`re all in this together that they`re a part of what St. Louis is.'

What St. Louis, is a mix of many different people and ethnicities that make up this Midwestern region.

Tuesday afternoon`s meal near South Grand was a chance to break bread.

'They value family, they give thanks for their freedom,' says Anna E. Crosslin, President & CEO International Institute St. Louis.  'So we really focus on those common values between the newcomers and the Americans who are already here in the community.  And that`s how we build not just a thanksgiving dinner, but a successful resettlement in general.'

As a journalist who has covered a number of Thanksgiving meals at the International Institute over the years, I can tell you that every time I leave, I feel good about the future of the City of St. Louis.