BACI celebrates opening of new center in Indianapolis
30 January 2013: Less than two years after its debut, the Burmese American Community Institute (BACI) celebrated the grand opening of the organization’s new center in Indianapolis, USA on 25 January.
Approximately 200 community members, public officials, and leaders of local faith communities attended the event on Friday evening.
Indianapolis Mayor Gregory A. Ballard was on hand to cut the ribbon and officially open the facility located at Perry Township Government Center, next to the US 31 and 465 Highway.
Mayor Ballard said he was not surprised that refugees from Burma have found a home in Indianapolis.
He said the city’s administration and citizens have made efforts to make Indianapolis an inclusive and welcoming city for refugees and immigrants.
“What the Burmese American Community Institute is doing for Burmese refugees in Indianapolis is remarkable,” Ballard said.
He praised the Institute’s educational programs geared to the refugee community and complimented the Institute’s members for their dedication and teamwork in accomplishing a great deal in a short time.
Executive Director of BACI Vahnie said: “The institute could not achieve its vision and mission alone. The progress we are making is possible through our collaborative efforts and collective action with the participation of stakeholders and community members.”
The new center was made possible through collaboration with the Office of the Perry Township Trustee and trustee Daniel T. Moriarty. It has space in the township trustee’s office and includes offices, a computer lab and community room.
Other officials who attended the opening were Indiana State Sen. Brent Waltz and Indiana State Refugee Coordinator Matthew Schomburg, Jack Sandlin, a city council member, and Jane A. Gehlhausen, international and cultural affairs director.
Perry Township Schools Superintendent Thomas Little commended the Institute for its role in promoting education for the Burmese community. Twenty-seven area high school students who completed training in the organization’s Upward College Program were honored at the celebration.
Clinical Assistant Professor Fengyi Kuo and graduate students from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis taught the college preparatory program.
The evening’s festivities also included Chin cultural dances, songs, music and food from Burma.
The Burmese American Community Institute was founded in 2011 to build a thriving, self-sufficient, and integrated Burmese community in Indianapolis through advocacy, education and employment.
Since its inception, BACI has assisted more than 500 individuals through services and programs in Indianapolis, home to approximately 9,000 Chin refugees.
Reporting by Thawng Zel Thang