Over 300 refugees from Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Burma/Myanmar make Cache Valley, Utah their home. The majority of them are employed at the JBS meat packing plant in Hyrum, Utah. When they come to the United States, refugees are assigned a specific area. No refugees are actually assigned to Cache Valley. Instead, they may choose to come here from Salt Lake City or farther away in the United States.
The Cache Valley Refugee Project (CVRP) conducted interviews with Burmese Muslim, Karen, and Eritrean refugees living in Cache Valley. Documenting and preserving their stories is an important goal of Utah State University’s Fife Folklore Archives (FFA). In May 2015, the FFA, Folklore Program, and The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress with help from the Eritrean, Karen, and Burmese Muslim communities hosted a Field School for Cultural Documentation. Field school students worked to document Cache Valley’s recent refugee communities. This collection, Folk Coll 58: Cache Valley Refugee Oral History Project, houses the physical recordings and associated materials of the interviews which took place during this field school. You can hear the recordings and view photographs in the digital collection: Cache Valley Refugee Oral History Project.
The driving force behind the CVRP is to help generate awareness within the wider community. By sharing their stories, others may come to understand their trials and struggles as refugees, as well as their triumphs and goals for the future in order to create a stronger community in Cache Valley, Utah.