The “Blurred Lives: Refugees to Neighbors” exhibit is open at Main Library from now through August 1. The exhibit, which is on display on the second floor gallery, tells the stories of 12 refugees who came to Michiana as refugees and asylees fleeing persecution in Viet Nam, Bosnia, Iraq, Venezuela and Afghanistan, among other countries.
“Refugees and other immigrants are important to the prosperity of our region,” said Ludy McCollister, Community Engagement Coordinator at the URC. “Forty percent of our population growth in recent years is because of immigration.”
“When we began this collaboration with the Library several months ago, it was simply with the idea of sharing the stories of a few refugees and asylees in the community. It has been a powerful experience for everyone involved. I believe, and hope, that more people will become active in welcoming and resettling newcomers in Michiana once they have a chance to ‘meet’ a few through this exhibit. Our new neighbors’ gifts are many and varied.”
The United Religious Community and Neighbor to Neighbor gathered the stories of some of our newest neighbors. Their stories are as diverse as their countries of origin. Among the stories that are highlighted are a cookbook author from Bosnia; an associate professor of painting and drawing at the University of Notre Dame who fled Viet Nam; as well as recent arrivals who are working on the front lines of businesses in the area. It is wonderful that they have chosen to make Michiana their home. As they thrive, we all thrive. The photos, taken by local photographer and documentarian, Myriam Nicodemus, really capture the essence of each individual’s story.
In the coming weeks, the American Immigration Council and Welcoming America will release a report on the economic contributions of immigrants to Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph Counties. Immigrants are an important part of our future as they were in years past.