Tribute to refugees

Photo by David LaBelle

A group of artists, educators and volunteers worked together to produce “We the People,” an outdoor art exhibit at Kent State University that paid tribute to refugees from around the world who have made Northeast Ohio their home. 

The exhibit spanned the Lefton Esplanade throughout the spring, showcasing large photographic portraits of individuals who fled their home countries and now live in or near the Kent area. 

Françoise Massardier-Kenney, PhD, professor of French translation in the Department of Modern and Classical Language Studies in Kent State’s College of the Arts—and codirector of the Global Understanding Research Initiative with Paul Haridakis, PhD, professor of communication studies in the School of Communication Studies—organized the project in collaboration with photographer Erin LaBelle of Ohio University, a former photography professor at Kent State. Several Akron-based refugee programs and some Kent State students also aided in the effort. 

The 25 refugees featured in the photo display fled to the United States to avoid war, oppression or the threat of grave danger in their home countries. Massardier-Kenney says that with the “unprecedented numbers” of refugees moving to other countries, it is important to remember that the United States is a country built on immigrants.

It is important to remember that the United States is a country built on immigrants.

The exhibit is part of a larger collaborative project that seeks to document and address the lack of adequate resources for refugee/immigrant youth to develop and maintain a strong identity.

GURI’s research aims to identify the most significant challenges and threats to immigrant youths’ identities, take inventory of the resources available to them for developing and maintaining a viable identity in their host culture, and then use these findings to devise—in collaboration with agencies that serve refugee and immigrant youth and their families—evidence-based best practices for helping them. 

Because of its high impact, “We the People” will be on display again at the same location in September 2019.

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POSTED: Thursday, September 12, 2019 11:37 AM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 08:46 AM