Refugees celebrate progress, hope

While immigration battles continue on Capitol Hill, the Knoxville community came together to celebrate World Refugee Day (internationally celebrated June 20) at Bridge Refugee Services, an organization driven to help refugees settle and succeed in the Knoxville and Chattanooga areas.

For a refugee, motivation for moving to the U.S. does not revolve around a more comfortable lifestyle, but the prospect of asylum. Refugees flee their native countries because of fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality or affiliation with a certain social group. Bridge helps refugees by securing jobs, housing and education opportunities.

Saturday evening, Bridge clients told stories about their journeys to America and described changes in their lives.

Client Eliza Manizabayo, a Congolese refugee, settled in Knoxville in 2016 after living in the Uganda Refugee Camp.

“There are some challenges where you do not know anything or anybody, and you feel like you’re so lonely, but these days we have churches that support refugees,” Manizabayo said.

Manizabayo shared her story and her love for America, where she finds many opportunities previously unavailable to her in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“It’s where every refugee wants to go,” she said of America. “It’s everyone’s dream in the refugee camp.”

Bridge makes every effort to put clients at ease as soon as they step into McGhee Tyson airport.

“They [church members] help repair the apartment and they go to the airport to welcome them,” Manizabayo said. She also said Bridge directed her to many opportunities to help further her education and learn English.

World Refugee Day allows Manizabayo time to feel happy and forgive her past, days darkened by harsh and violent conditions in her native country. Such conditions included sexual assault, murder and torture by armed groups.

“Sometimes when we tell our stories, it makes us remember the past, but also gives us that feeling of, ‘Yes, I suffered, but now I’m okay.’”

Bridge Refugee Services planned events in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Maryville to celebrate World Refugee Day. In Knoxville, WATE’s John Dare served as emcee to facilitate transitions between speakers.

Zainab Ahmed speaks to the public about her journey as a refugee and life in Knoxville. June 24, 2018. Sage Davis/TNJN

Zainab Ahmed came to Knoxville three years ago. A refugee from Iraq, Ahmed now looks to start her own jewelry business. She currently takes classes in marketing and business to help expand her jewelry brand.

“They [Bridge] encouraged me to do this,” Ahmed said. When Bridge plans events, workers help Ahmed market her jewelry by inviting her to set up a booth.

“They are helping me by connecting me to businessmen and commercial agencies to take classes with them to help me market.”

Drocella Mugorewera, executive director of Bridge, was a client when she first arrived in the U.S in 2009. For Mugorewera, World Refugee Day not only prompts remembrance of the refugees’ struggles worldwide, but also of their achievements.

“We’re celebrating their achievements, resilience and contribution to the community,” she said. “We’re also celebrating the welcoming communities.”

“Refugees cannot thrive without the supporting communities.”

Images by Sage Davis

Edited by Lexie Little

Knoxville lantern festival prepares to dim

Dragon Lights, the first ever Chinese lantern festival in Knoxville, comes to a close in Chilhowee Park this weekend. The festival, which began March 16, ends April 22. The final festival day starts at 5:30 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m.

“It’s a great way for us to learn about another culture. In this case, the Chinese culture,” James Hopkins said. “The lights are beautiful, and we love it.”


The Dragon Lights festival fills the park with traditional lights such as the Chinese zodiac animals, Chinese opera characters, jellyfish and more. The gigantic red dragon proves the most eye-catching in the middle of the park. The dragon stretches about 70 feet long and 20 feet high.


Dragon Lights festival features food trucks and showcases performers like plate spinners at 6:30 p.m. and at 8 p.m.

Chinese artisans created each lantern by hand. Lanterns are best viewed after sunset, around 8:13 p.m. for the final day.  Tickets are 16 dollars for adults and 10 dollars for children.


“I’m glad Knoxville has this even for us,” Hopkins said. “We are looking forward to next year’s Dragon Lights festival.”

Photos by Jeff Park

Become a TNJN editor

The Tennessee Journalist staff will be holding interviews for 2018-2019 editorial staff positions on Monday, April 23 at 4 p.m. preceding our final meeting of the school year.

This past year our staff has included an editor-in-chief, a managing editor and editors and assistant editors for sports, arts and culture and news. However, we are open to creating new positions and sections as we see fit.

Everyone is welcome to interview for any and all positions.

If you cannot make the scheduled interview time or you have any questions, email Taylor Owens at

Sex Week brings #MeToo Movement to UT

Harvey Weinstein used his power to manipulate young actresses. Even outside Hollywood, incidents of sexual assault between subordinates and superiors can be found across the board.

During this year’s Sex Week, Dr. Nora Berenstain of Tennessee’s department of philosophy spoke about the #MeToo movement and conditions that enable sexual violence.

Berenstain believes “power disparity based on conditions of vulnerability” to be the cause of the majority of sexual violence in our society. Simply, when someone has power or authority over another individual’s future, that power gives him/her control over the other person.

With entities exercising control over a person’s plausible future, power creates room for coercion. Superiors who exhibit controlling behavior include landlords, instructors, bosses and law enforcement officers.

Students in attendance also learned that 30 percent of exotic dancers and 24 percent of street-based sex workers who have been raped identify police officers as their rapists.

“If we want to change the conditions that allow sexual violence to flourish, we need to change the laws and conditions that promote the power disparity that enables it,” Berenstain said.

Society must also change treatment of victims. Ignorance to and failing to acknowledge the severity of the abuse “creates a hostile climate and emboldens abusers.”

Berenstain maintained that society must take reports seriously and encourage others to come forward. The only way to stop abusers lies in the truth, and victims cannot be ignored in order to reveal the truth.

Featured image by Catie Jett

Edited by Lexie Little

Languages department hosts annual soccer tournament

The sixth annual Modern Foreign Languages and Literaturs soccer tournament kicked off at the Regal Soccer Stadium Wednesday. The Italian club created the event, and a total of nine language programs (French, Italian, Arabic, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, German and Russian) participated. Each game lasted 20 minutes with five minutes of halftime break.

“It’s much better this year,” Savannah Householder, who represented the Chinese team, said. “There are more people who came to support. The jerseys are much nicer and everyone is more excited.”


The first round featured matchups between the Japanese and the Russians, Spanish and Arabic, German and Portuguese and the reigning French champions and Italian team.

Italian supporters came out in full force; the Italian team had never won the tournament.

After the first round of tournament, the Japanese dance team performed during halftime.

Students organize teams and practice leading up to the tournament. The language programs provide the jerseys.

Students like Jacob Isber enjoy the opportunity to play against other language students.

“It’s bringing a bunch of people together,” Isber, who represented the Arabic team, said. “It’s my first time. We love it. We are having a great time, because it’s like a mini-world cup. It’s pretty sweet.”


However, not everyone remained happy during the tournament. The Chinese versus Spanish matchup included a goal controversy that heated arguments between coaches and referees.

The Spanish fouled a Chinese player four seconds before the end of game, and the Chinese earned a free kick. With an automatic clock, the time never stopped, and the game ended.


The referee kept his own time accounting for extra time, however. The Spanish team became agitated because time expired. The team thought the judge awarded an unfair penalty kick. As no Spanish goalkeeper showed up, the Chinese kicked the ball into the open net and won by 3-2.

The Italian team ultimately swept the tournament, marking its first win.


Featured Images: Jeff Park

Edited by Lexie Little

Hate words smear the Rock again

Sometime during the night before Monday, April 9, a group defaced the University of Tennessee Rock with derogatory words.

The Rock reads “Sluts catch AIDS” beside what resembles three crosses. The message is signed by “Federalist Soc.”

The incident marks just one of several times the Rock featured negativity this school year. On Feb. 12, more than 400 members of the Volunteer community gathered at the Rock and created a rainbow of handprints to cover racist remarks.

Students wonder if the current phrase correlates with UT’s annual Sex Week. The educational venture runs through April 12.

“I think it definitely has something to do with sex week,” junior Lainey Goodwill said. “Sex Week is such an important event here on campus, but it gets a lot of backlash. People mistakenly think that providing sex education to college students means that those students are going to suddenly start having lots of irresponsible sex and getting abortions, when that’s just not accurate.”

Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee (SEAT) coordinates Sex Week on campus. SEAT aims to educate the students of UT about sex, sexuality and relationships.

“UT has a sex week to compensate for Tennessee’s inconsistent sex education in high schools,” Goodwill said. “The information you got largely depended on where you went to school.”

More information about UT Sex Week and the list of events can be found here.

Featured photo taken by Chelsea Babin