Travel the world in one night

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People use a lot of words to describe Steamboat Springs, but "diverse" isn't usually one of them.

Matthew Barmann and Nicole Goode want people to take a second look.

¤ Third annual International Evening ¤ 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday ¤ Steamboat Springs High School commons area ¤ $5 donation; all proceeds will benefit Lutheran Family Services ¤ 871-3658

"There is a fair amount of diversity here," Goode said. "It's just hard to see. We were excited when we moved to a remote mountain town and saw people from all over the world."

Barmann and Goode, who are married, met in Mali as Peace Corps volunteers. When Goode took a job as the French teacher at Steamboat Springs High School, the couple quickly connected with a number of West African refugees living in town.

Their friendship with the Mauritanians inspired them to organize the first International Evening three years ago.

On that first night, sponsored by the SSHS French Club, the West African residents of Steamboat got a chance to tell their stories to anyone who came to listen. African food was served and a few returned Peace Corps volunteers talked about their experiences abroad.

The room was packed that night, and the event opened a dialogue that is still going on in Steamboat.

In 2004, Barmann and Goode opened the second annual International Evening to all international members of the Steamboat community. All proceeds raised that night were divided among local organizations that serve international residents, such as the English as a Second Language program at Colorado Mountain College.

This year, the International Evening will focus on the plight of refugees around the world, giving the podium to refugees and political asylum seekers who live in Steamboat.

Phil Gazley of the Lutheran Family Services of Colorado Refugee and Asylee Programs will give a presentation about the situation in Darfur, Sudan.

Several of CMC's ESL students will speak about their experiences leaving political turmoil in their countries. For those whose memories are too painful, they simply will share information about their countries and tell the stories of their lives in Steamboat.

There will be a political action table with information about changes that can be made in the United States' refugee policies.

On a lighter, social note, the SSHS National Honor Society plans to prepare food from every continent for tasting. The Peace Corps will have an information table, and Robin Getter's African Dance Troupe will perform.

"We are internationalists at heart," Barmann said. "We love this world and all it has to offer. It's our passion, and we just want to share it."

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