Timbrel Adidala and Mustafa Nuur
How Timbrel Adidala and Mustafa Nuur Honor Diverse Traditions In Lancaster County, America’s Refugee Capital
“We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.”
― Gwendolyn Brooks
In January 2017, the BBC let the world know how incredible our lovely and compassionate county is by proclaiming it “America’s Refugee Capital.” Lancaster welcomes twenty times more refugees per capita than any other part of the US. We have welcomed families from around the world into our neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools. We have accepted them, but do we really understand these refugees, who bring not only themselves but their rich and diverse cultural traditions?
Meet Timbrel Adidala of Cultured Workshop and Mustafa Nuur of Experience Bridge—our connectors. Timbrel, who immigrated to Lancaster from India, has seen an opportunity to honor the traditions of refugees and immigrants in Lancaster county through celebration. Specifically, by teaching the professionals who play a part in any couple’s most momentous day—their wedding—the traditions and procedures of the soon-to-be newlyweds culture(s). She trains and certifies photographers, disc jockeys, live performers, wedding planners, caterers, and anyone else connected to the ceremony, on the many variations and details that make weddings of differing cultures special and different from what many see as the Brides magazine wedding. She has created a space that will work wedding professionals through the specifics of, for example, a Greek, Jewish, Indian, or Nepalese wedding. Thus, from start to finish, the happy couple and their families can be confident that their special day will honor their traditions.
Mustafa, who is a refugee from Somalia, founded Experience Bridge in an effort to connect refugees with those in Lancaster wishing to learn more about other cultures. The refugee families involved—who are from Iraq, Syria, Madagascar, and more—make a meal for their guests and then share dance, music, and stories about their home countries. Over the course of two hours, for a price of $35 per guest, traditional food is served, cultures are shared, an understanding is developed, and guests and hosts alike spend an evening honoring both the uniqueness and the similarity of all of us.
Lancaster County shines as a place of acceptance for our refugee friends. But perhaps acceptance is not enough. To benefit all of us, to grow and thrive as a community, to insulate us from our fears and destruction, understanding must be reached, or at least strived for.
By Marian Pontz