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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Language barriers make it tough for Colorado refugees to understand mass shooting

Aurora, Colo., is one of the most diverse cities in that state. It has a vibrant community of refugees, many of whom don't speak English. Recently, a refugee group pulled together an event to try and help people cross the language barrier and get the facts about the violent movie theater shooting there.

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July’s mass shooting at a movie theater in Colorado took place in the state’s most ethnically diverse city.
In recent years, thousands of refugees from around the world have settled in Aurora, Colo., and the massacre has left some of them questioning their safety.

Most of Aurora’s refugee community clusters along the busy lanes of Colfax Avenue, in an older part of town with cheap housing and good public transportation to jobs in Denver. Headscarves and sarongs are familiar sights here, as people from Somalia, Myanmar and Bhutan try to settle into new, American routines.

The man charged with the movie theater shooting lived on the edge of this neighborhood, but barriers of language and culture mean many here are still confused about what actually happened.
On a recent evening, locals speaking seven different languages filled a meeting room at the Aurora Mental Health Center. With plates of vegetarian samosas on their laps and translation headphones on their ears, they listened to city councilwoman Melissa Miller try to explain.

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