Brad Kirscher called the meeting to order at 12:30 p.m. Luke Ferden greeted us as we arrived and led the flag pledge, followed by Melanie Mogg who offered the invocation. Joan Kallenberg introduced visiting Rotarian Eldon Tessman from Brooklyn Park; two guests of Don Craighead, Joseph Lavalle and Dan Batton; and Amy Marret (ma-RAY) a guest of Deb Nygaard.
 
General club announcements and business
 
New member, Angela Eifert was inducted and welcomed by Deb Nygaard.
 
We would like to extend our deepest condolences to Terry and David Gilberstadt and Hugh Schilling at the loss of Terry's mother, Peggy Schilling, who passed away this week.
 
 
Eldon Tessman announced the Brooklyn Park sponsored Wild Game Dinner, Thursday, Feb 16, 2017. Tickets are $90. This is the premier fundraising activity that supports the Club’s annual donations within Brooklyn Park and around the world.  For tickets, contact Gina Smith at http://www.rotaryclubofbrooklynpark.org or call, 763-225-8886.
 
Remember, the GSE Team coming in May from Australia arrives on the 7th of May. Ted Johnston is seeking host families for their stay.  Contact Gayland Bender or Melanie Mogg if you can help out.
 
Program
 
Brad Kirscher, Eh Tah Khu, Rebekah Jacobson
 
 
Brad Kirscher introduced today’s speakers, Rebekah Jacobson, Community Engagement Specialist and Eh Tah Khu, Co-executive Director for the Karen Organization of Minnesota (KOM). 
The Karen (pronounced Ka-REN) are an ethnic group from the mountainous border regions of Burma and Thailand. They have long been subject to persecution and ethnic cleansing by the Burmese government, and many have been living in refugee camps in Thailand for years before being resettled to Minnesota.
 
There are approximately 12,000 Karen and an additional 500 refugees from other Burmese ethnic groups in Burma now resettled and living in Minnesota. St. Paul and its surrounding communities have the largest and fastest-growing Karen populations in the U.S. Other Minnesota communities with significant Karen populations include Worthington, Willmar, Austin, Albert Lea and Faribault.
 
Rebekah and Eh Tah Khu in turn described how the history of Burmese conflict necessitated the move to resettlement camps in Thailand and described what life in the camps was like. They also talked about the characteristics that comprise the Karen cultural identity and outlined the barriers encountered as they struggle to assimilate into their new homeland.
 
The Karen Organization of Minnesota's ("KOM") mission is to enhance the quality of life for Karen and other refugees from Burma. They strive to:
  • Assist refugees to settle, integrate and become increasingly self-sufficient;
  • Foster cultural knowledge and understanding; and
  • Strengthen organizational capacity and effectiveness to meet the needs of the community.
For more information visit mnkaren.org,  or contact Rebekah Jacobson, Community Engagement Specialist, 651-202-3112, rjacobson@mnkaren.org
 
 
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