A look at refugees past and present

NEH-funded Immigrant Ohio symposium explores the many perspectives of refugee displacement and settling

immigration-event

Refugees: Past and Present,” a one day symposium at BGSU, explored stories of displacement and settling refugees, and a discussion about the future of the global refugee situation.  

More than 350 students, faculty and community members explored the topic through others’ eyes. First-person accounts and family stories were relayed about migration from North to South Korea, Pakistan to India and India to Pakistan, as well as from Germany, Hungary, Vietnam, Cuba, Burundi and Syria to the United States. Additionally, leaders from community-based organizations shared their perspectives about government assistance, mental health and trauma issues, the economic impact of refugees, and surviving the American maze.  

Anne-Marie McGranaghan, a BGSU alumna and a representative of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, provided the keynote address about “Global Resettlement Trends.”  

The final session was the opening reception for “Refugee Stories from Three Continents,” a photographic exhibition by Somalian asylee Tariq Tarey.  The Columbus, Ohio-based visual artist, uses his art to advocate for refugees throughout the world. His exhibit at the William T. Jerome Library is on display through April 2018. The photo captions were created by students in the BGSU 1910 class taught by Dr. Vibha Bhalla, associate professor of ethnic studies.

Bhalla and Dr. Christina Guenther, an associate professor of world languages and cultures, were co-authors of a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), “Understanding Migration: Local and Global Perspectives.” In addition to supporting the symposium, the grant also   provides for professional development of faculty members to design new one-credit freshman seminar classes that will eventually expand into general education courses.