Immigrant Ohio conference looks at 'Refugees Past and Present'

Speakers, panels reflect on impact of global refugee crisis at BGSU


More than 65 million people worldwide have been forcefully displaced from their homes by conflict and war. Bowling Green State University will address the global refugee crisis at the daylong 2017 "Immigrant Ohio" symposium on Nov. 14 starting at 9:30 a.m. in 228 Bowen-Thompson Student Union.

“Refugees Past and Present” will include three panel sessions that will focus on refugee stories of displacement from the 1940s through the present, settling refugees, and a discussion about the future of the global refugee situation, according to event co-organizers Drs. Vibha Bhalla, an associate professor of ethnic studies, and Christina Guenther, an associate professor of world languages and cultures.

BGSU alumna Anne Marie McGranaghan from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Washington, D.C., will provide the keynote address. McGranaghan, an associate resettlement officer, will talk about “Global Resettlement Trends.” She earned a bachelor’s degree in social work in 1981 and master’s degrees in college student personnel and guidance counseling in 1988.  

The symposium, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is free and open to the public. The first panel, “Becoming Refugees: Stories of Displacement,” will include people who were refugees from North to South Korea, Pakistan to India, and from Hungary, Vietnam, Cuba, Russia, Somalia, Syria and Burundi.  

“Settling Refugees,” the panel after a lunch break, will include representatives from US Together in Toledo, Ohio, Jobs and Family Services, Cleveland Catholic Diocese’s Ohio Center for Survivors of Tortures, ASPIRE at the Penta Career Center, and Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE).  

The final panel of the day offers a look at “What’s Next? A Time to Ponder,” with panelists Peter and Betsy Ujvagi talking about “The Community Perspective: The Hungarian Community in Toledo”; Brittany Ford from Welcome Toledo-Lucas County; BGSU faculty members who will address “Preserving Refugee Life Stories"; and Eugenio Mollo of ABLE exploring “Discourses on Refugee Policy.”

The event closes with the opening of a special photography exhibition titled “Refugee Stories from Three Continents” by Tariq Tarey, a Somalian asylee. Tarey, a visual artist living in Columbus, Ohio, uses his visual art to advocate for refugees throughout the world. His exhibit at BGSU will be featured in the William T. Jerome Library through April 2018. Guests are invited to view the opening of the exhibit at 4 p.m. followed by a reception in the library. The Ethnic Cultural Arts Program is helping sponsor the photographic exhibit.

The symposium is funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities grant that BGSU received to address the refugee crisis and to develop an interdisciplinary undergraduate curriculum on the topic of migration. The Department of Ethnic Studies, School of Cultural and Critical Studies and Department of World Languages and Cultures are hosting the event.

Guests with disabilities are requested to indicate if they need special services, assistance or appropriate modifications to fully participate in this event by contacting Accessibility Services, 419-372-8495 prior to the event. 

Updated: 01/28/2019 10:27AM