BRUNSWICK — The town’s new cultural broker on Wednesday said he hopes to promote inclusivity and relieve any fears that may divide the newly arrived asylum-seekers and their neighbors.

Nsiona Nguizani will work with asylum-seekers in Brunswick to help them adjust after moving out of the Portland Expo. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

Nsiona Nguizani was hired by Town Manager John Eldridge last week, with the approval of the Town Council and ont the recommendation of the Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition.

Nguizani’s position will be full-time for six months and then re-evaluated to see if a full-time position is still warranted. His salary will be $70,000 and he will split his time between Brunswick Landing and Town Hall. According to Eldridge, the majority of Nguizani’s time will be spent with asylum-seekers.

Nguizani, who started his job Monday, has been working with asylum-seekers in Portland since they arrived in June. He is an African immigrant who speaks French, Portuguese and Lingala, and is president of the Angolan Community of Maine.

Earlier this summer, more than 300 asylum-seekers came to Maine to escape violence and persecution in Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They were allowed to stay at the Portland Exposition Building until Aug. 15, when the building was being leased to the Maine Red Claws basketball team.

Nguizani’s duties, according to his job description, will reflect “the town’s commitment to multi-cultural communication, inclusion, integration and support that ensures the health, stability, family well-being and that is proactive, strategic and collaborative,” with the hope that asylum-seekers “establish independence and the skills to navigate their new home and the resources they need.”

“I understand that everyone is afraid of the unknown,” Nguizani said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “They do not know these people and the newcomers don’t know the new place that they are staying, which creates a fear. When you have that feeling of fear, people tend to not engage and get negative, which is what we are trying to avoid.”

Nguizani said that so far, he has not seen any negativity and hopes to push a message about inclusion to the community.

“My job has two parts to it, (which is) working with the (asylum-seekers) and integration,” he said. “The more information that people have, the more open to inclusion they are.”

Nguizani said he is working on an inclusion project and hopes to bring his proposal to town officials in the coming weeks. He said he hopes to organize some sort of co-housing idea at Brunswick Landing so that the homeless community can also be included.

“(My idea is that) we have been given access to this resource, and now we need to look at how we can use this to benefit more people,” he said.

Nguizani said that as of Wednesday, there are approximately 40 asylum-seekers living in Brunswick, mainly at Brunswick Landing.

According to Sarah Singer, a member of the immigration task force, the town is expecting up to 60 asylum-seekers. They will be staying at Brunswick Landing, move in with host families, or reside at privately owned properties.

Assistant Superintendent of Brunswick Schools Shawn Lambert, who is also on the task force, could not confirm the number of people moving into town.

“We don’t really know,” he said during an Aug. 12 phone interview. “We have heard so many numbers and it seems to continue to get higher. The last I have heard is that we will have 50 to 60 total.”

School officials will have a better grasp on how many new students will be starting school in the fall after registration is held Aug. 19 to accommodate asylum-seekers, Lambert said.

Eldridge said at an Aug. 7 task force meeting that things were “continuing to evolve very rapidly.”

Emily Darby, coordinator of the English for Speakers of Other Languages department, has been working with members of Midcoast Literacy to lead three sessions of English Language instruction at Curtis Memorial Library. Each session is geared toward a specific age group and the program will be open to anyone who needs help learning English. It was not clear how many have been attending the sessions so far.

“(Darby) has been in constant motion with this,” Lambert said at the meeting. “She has been rampant in framing this up and will be working closely with (Nguizani).”

Lambert also suggested having Nguizani meet with school administrators to discuss ways staff and students can become attuned and better understand the children’s backgrounds to allow a smoother transition.

At its previous meeting on July 24, the task force suggested using the Brunswick Landing Recreation Center as a central location for a resource center for the newcomers, but that would have to be temporary because the space is leased to a day care center beginning in September.

The town, meanwhile, is still trying to find a space for Nguizani’s office and also suggested the recreation center as a temporary location.

The town manager’s office has also established a community support fund on GoFundMe, where members of the community can donate to provide shelter, housing assistance and basic necessities for families that have moved to town.

The next immigration task force meeting will beat 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, in the Town Council Chambers.