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Refugees in Vermont Share Their Experiences

Vermont Refugees to Exhibit Artwork, Speak at JSC

September 15, 2010

The current exhibit in the Julian Scott Gallery in Johnson State College’s Dibden Center for the Arts features the work of the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, a Colchester-based branch of the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). The Colchester branch assists refugees in the U.S. to resettle in Vermont. You can learn more about them here and USRI here.

Elements of the Exhibit

– Facts about 4 different regions the Vermont branch of USRCI has recently assisted: Bhutan, Burma, Iraq, and Somalia

– A focus on 4 refugee families from these regions

– An overhead projector showing a 10-minute film called “Bwakeye Inzu: Hello Home” which takes place in Burundi and discusses the struggle of resettling to one’s homeland after having been a refugee from the region.

– Why are there refugees from Bhutan, Burma, Iraq, and Somalia

– What life is like in a refugee camp in these regions

– United Nations recommended rations available in a camp for each person

– What questions do you need to ask to understand another culture?

– What it takes to travel from a refugee camp to a new country

– Steps to get to the U.S.

– Power points: What is life is like as a refugee and “We Share Our World Camp Life” (West computer)

– Power points: What do refugees need to do to come to the U.S. and “We Share Our World Life Resettled” (East computer)

– What life is like after resettlement

– And lastly: Information about Vermont Refugee Resettlement between 1989-2009

About the Square in the Center of the Exhibit There is a square marked-out in the center of the exhibit with blue tape – this is how much space the United Nation recommends for a family of six to live, sleep, and store personal items. This recommended space is generally over-crowded in a refugee camp and even when building-materials are donated or scavenged to enhance this space – it does not always protect families from wet weather and certainly not from fire. Also, throughout the gallery you will see clothing from these regions exhibited along with fabrics.

Exhibition Dates September 6 – October 16

Gallery Hours: 10 am – 6 pm M-F; 10am – 4pm Sat.

More About This Exhibit Bhutan, Burma, Iraq, and Somalia are four different regions from which families have been resettled to Vermont to seek solace from the political strife in their homelands. (Other populations have been resettled to Vermont from these regions: Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Former Soviet Union, Latin America, Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Populations resettled from these regions can also be viewed in documents posted in the gallery.)

Bhutan, Burma, Iraq, and Somalia – each has had recent governing powers attempt to create a unified country at the expense of current culture groups already living there. These groups became unwilling or unable to exist with these governing powers. Due to murder, threat, and economic strangle-holds they were forced to take-up new roots in Refugee Camps and then (when possible) take refuge in other countries including the U.S. and states like Vermont.

These four regions are among many regions under stress due to political, cultural, and religious diversity/differences.

Exhibit Opening Reception and Panel Discussion Wednesday, September 15, 2010 from 3-7:30 pm. Please join us to hear these stories, share your own, and gather/discuss your thoughts about the exhibit.
3-5pm: Guided tours of the exhibit 5-5:45 pm: Sampling of food from these regions 6-7:30 pm: A panel discussion with guests from these regions. Bentley Hall, Room 207.

Exhibit Background Vermont Refugee Resettlement has been working to resettle refugees in Vermont for 30 years. This exhibit celebrates the 30th anniversary of Vermont Refugee Resettlement by way of sharing information about four families from four different regions.