Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Soft Landing Missoula, in conjunction with the University of Montana Humanities Institute is sponsoring a lecture on Wednesday, April 5 at the University Center Theater called ‘The Ways We Welcome: A Conversation on the Expanding Possibilities for Welcoming Refugees and Those Fleeing Danger’.

KGVO News spoke to Soft Landing Missoula founder Mary Poole on Tuesday about the upcoming lecture.

Soft Landing Sponsoring a Lecture on April 5 at the University Center Theater

“This lecture really is more to shed light on all of the new ways to welcome (refugees) that have been made available in the last couple of years,” began Poole. “There's been a significant change in kind of the process and how folks would get to Missoula as refugees. Since we started seven years ago, ever since the fall of Kabul (Afghanistan), there have been different ways that our federal government has been creating paths to welcome folks in need of a safe home.”

Poole said there will also be a panel discussion in addition to the lecture.

“We just wanted to have a kind of a lecture and a panel discussion where we can kind of shed light on some of those paths,” she said. “Some of the good things about them; some of the challenges, and kind of look at how this really is a response to all of the kinds of crises that are happening in the world right now with displaced persons.”

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Poole said the number of Refugees Worldwide has Increased from 60 to 100 Million

Poole said with all the worldwide turmoil, the number of refugees has increased from 60 million to over 100 million people.

“Some of the major conflicts still include Syria in the Middle East,” she said. “There are many folks in the Diaspora of African countries; there's significant conflict in northern Ethiopia right now. Obviously, there are Ukraine and Afghanistan. A big one also is south of us on the U.S. southern border. That includes Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba. There have been new pathways created to provide humanitarian parole to certain individuals from those countries as well.”

When it Comes to Housing Poole said 'A Rising Tide Lifts all Boats'

Poole said the housing of refugees can also play a role by saying ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’ when it comes to Missoula’s own housing issues.

“There are many ways you can look at it, but I think that the welcoming of refugees can actually play a positive role in the community discussion around housing,” she said. “Attendees can just show up at the University Center Theater on Wednesday, April 5 at 6:30 p.m. Folks are always welcome to go on our website and sign up for our newsletter and see what else we have going on. But this is a free event, so come one, come all.”

The program will begin with a lecture from Kari Hong, an immigration attorney with decades of experience, explaining the various immigration pathways that have emerged and their consequences. Her presentation will be followed by a panel conversation moderated by Chris Hyslop of the Montana World Affairs Council.

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