In Search of Welcome: The Exhibit

August 30, 2010

After a much anticipated wait, I am excited to show you all my exhibit! After getting the chance to compile some of my favorite photographs and stories from this year, I created wooden canvases to help and display each collection of photos. Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service threw an incredible party for the exhibit opening. Friends, family, and valued co-workers all had a chance to view the photography, and local Baltimore musician Caleb Stine stopped by for a visit and a few songs!

Without further ado, I am excited to show you all the exhibit, which, will be available very soon on the LIRS website. Something VERY cool abotu this exhibit is that it gets to travel, so if your congregation, school, or place of work would like to host this art, give a shout out to and let us know!

Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service stands boldly with migrants and refugees, speaking out as strong advocates for fair and human treatment of all persons. Join LIRS as we dialouge with lawmakers by taking action and speaking out on behalf of migrants and refugees living in the Unitred States!  As pictured beginning top left and moving clockwise: Rep. Luis Gutierrez  (IL-4) sponsor of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity Act (CIRASAP) of 20009, meets with ELCA bishops; Bishop Wayne miller, Metro Chicago Synod, ELCA; LIRS meets with Senator Thune’s (R-SD) staff while participating in a Refugee Council USA Advocacy Day; Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO); William Chol, former refugee from Sudan lobbying on Capitol Hill; Bishop Wayne Miller, Metro Chicago Synod, ELCA with Bishop Gerald L. Masholt, Central State Synod, ELCA.

My very first visit “In Search of Welcome” was with Vung Lam Man and her beautiful children. As former refugees from Burma, Vung Lam Man and her family arrived to Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 2009 where they were greeted by LIRS affiliate, Lutheran Children and Family Services of Pennsylvania. As I went to their home to meet and interview Vung Lam Man about her experience in coming to the United States, I felt incredibly excited. Although we did not speak the same language, through the honesty of hospitality a joyful time was made possible. As we interacted, a moment of pure organic laughter broke out. Suddenly the fact that there was a language barrier had been smashed by laughter and we shared a moment of genuine human connection. After the interview portion of my visit had ended, and written translation was be transcribed, I went to play outside with the kids. From this expereince came some of my favorite memories and best photographs of the year! (Pictured beginning top left and moving clockwise): (Left to right) Vung Sian Cing, Niang Deih Lian, and Thang Suan Pau jump with excitement (and energy!) for the camera; Niang Deih Lian, Vung Sian Cing and Thang Suan Pau sit on their front stoop in Lacaster, Pennsylvania; Niang Deih Lian gives a big smile for the camera; Thang Suan Pau; Niang Deih Lian.

Nicknamed in 2005 “The Town That Loves Refugees” by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Utica, New York is home to former refugees from Bosnia, Dzeusad and Amoid Dizdareuic. After coming to the United States in 1997 both Dzeusad and Amoid were greeted with a number of challenges. While the transition was difficult and the langauge barrier was tough at first, Dzeusad expresses the welcome that he felt, simply through the act of receiving a smile from a stranger. After only 5 years of living in the United States the Dizdareuic family owns and operates both a corner market as well as the hair salon next door. Dzeusad reminds us that “The U.S. is a land of opportunity… you can succeed, but you can also fall down…you have to work hard.” 

Dina Lukudu, a former refugee from Southern Sudan poses with her three children on her back porch in Towson, MD. After meeting her husband while studying in Egypt, Dina and her family came to the United States, escaping the war-torn conditions of Southern Sudan. While interviewing Dina as our featured mother in the 2010 LIRS Mother’s Day video, she reflected enthusiastically on her initial excitement to come to the United States. While she was nervous, especially for her children, she has found friends, family, and work here in the states. (Pictured top to bottom): Diko (9 years old); Emmanuel (11 years old); (Left to Right) Diko, Bande (16 months old), Dina, Emmanuel.


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