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COMMUNITY CULTURES: Tai Dam Welcome Center Dedicated

They’ve called Iowa home for nearly four decades.

This weekend, the Tai Dam community is sharing their culture with those who welcomed them with open arms.

Former Gov. Robert Ray welcomed Tai Dam refugees to Iowa almost 40 years ago.

On Saturday, they invited to the ribbon cutting of a new welcome center named in his honor.

“The welcome center is a building where we would like to place artifacts, memorabilia or anything that I, my children or future generations and the community have,” said Tai Dam community member Somphong Baccam.

In 1975, the Tai Dam people sought refuge in the United States from countries torn apart by war.

Governor Ray and the state of Iowa were the only ones to respond.  Iowans opened their homes to the Tai Dam families.

At Saturday’s dedication of Tai Village, the former Governor reflected on his decision to invite these hard-working people to Iowa.

“I could not see how we could live with so much but turn our backs on people who would lose their lives if we didn’t take action.  It’s a great feeling and I appreciate the Tai Dam people,” said former Gov. Robert Ray.

Iowa is home to more than 8,000 Tai Dam refugees.