Thousands of refugees have come to Erie in the past decade, but the culture transition is rarely a smooth one.
That's why Gannon University gathered community leaders, students, and agencies like the Multicultural Center, to hear from local refugees and raise awareness about their plight.
"Through the Erie GAINS initiative of Gannon University we feel that it's very important that we support our mission of service in the community, and provide some information to the community but with the perspective of the refugee population," said Erika Ramalho, Gannon's Director of Community and Government Relations.
Refugees come to Erie out of war and persecution, seeking a peaceful existence here. But too often when they arrive, they are met by violence and intolerance.
"I saw some people that have had to struggle with a lot of problems in their own country, and when they came here they continue to fight," said Marie Soudnie Rivette, a Fellow at Gannon. "They want their life to be better, they want a better life for themselves and for their children."
Haiti native Rivette has worked with local refugees for most of her time here.
She said refugees often face injustices like harassment, assault, and robbery, but a lot of organizations have already stepped up to help in Erie.
"We have some initiative taken from the Erie Police Department, we have initiative from the Erie School District, we have initiative from a lot of local agencies," she said.
But even with that support, Rivette delivered a desperately needed call to action.
"Let us make the connection stronger, let us reinforce the connection between those two communities, and I think the integration will be much much better."