Middlebury

College co-hosts Vermont refugee program series with Vermont Folklife Center

March 5, 2008

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ?  Middlebury College and the Vermont Folklife Center will co-host a series of presentations titled "In Their Own Words" to complement a current exhibit at the Folklife Center titled "In Their Own Words: Stories from Refugees Resettled in Vermont Communities." All presentations are free and open to the public. The exhibit runs through June 14. To follow are the first four events in the series.

The first program, "The Association of Africans Living in Vermont: Refugee Resettlement and its Challenges," will take place on Thursday, March 6, at 7 p.m. in the conference room of Middlebury College's Robert A. Jones '59 House, located on Hillcrest Road, off College Street (Route 125). Association of Africans Living in Vermont Director George Wright, a 1999 Middlebury graduate, and association members will speak about their organization, the community it serves, and the challenges of being an African refugee in Vermont.

On Sunday, March 9, at 7 p.m., a presentation titled "In Their Own Words: Refugees Tell Their Stories of Displacement and Resettlement in Vermont" will include people featured in the ongoing exhibit at the Folklife Center. They will speak about the experience of resettlement specifically to this area, the challenges they face here, and how Vermont communities are affected by their presence. The discussion will take place in Coltrane Lounge of Adirondack House at Middlebury College, located on College Street (Route 125).

Two events will take place on Tuesday, March 11.  At 3:30 p.m. photographer Ned Castle and Vermont Folklife Center Education Director Gregory Sharrow present "Educators' Preview." This program will offer an introduction and orientation to the exhibit for area educators. At 5:30 p.m., there will be a "Gallery Talk by Ned Castle." Photographer Ned Castle, who created the images and conducted the interviews for "In Their Own Words," will discuss the project: his motivation, the artistic and ethnographic processes, community connections, curricular ties, and long-term vision. Both events will take place at the Vision and Voice Documentary Workspace of the Vermont Folklife Center, located at 88 Main Street in Middlebury.

On Thursday, March 20, at 7 p.m., a presentation of the "The Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program" will be held in the conference room of Middlebury College's Hillcrest House, located on College Street (Route 125).  Judy Scott, director of the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program, and David Tabaruka, a refugee from Rwanda, will discuss the organization of the statewide refugee resettlement program and the individual experiences of refugees living in Vermont communities.

The next event in the series will take place on Monday, April 7, at 7 p.m.  The discussion entitled "The Social Equity Investment Project:  A Predescribed Solution to Cultural Shifting in Vermont" will take place at Middlebury College's Hillcrest House, located on College Street (Route 125).  Wanda Hines of the Burlington Community and Economic Development Office will talk about the cultural shift that is occurring in the Champlain Valley, and what Vermonters and others must do to ensure equality and respect for all. 

On Thursday, April 10, at 4:30 p.m., a talk titled "Helping My Homeland From Afar:  the New Sudan Education Imitative" will be held at the Chateau Grand Salon on the Middlebury College campus, located on College Street (Route 125).  Abraham Awolich, a Sudanese refugee, activist, and co-director of the New Sudan Education Initiative will talk about the program's mission, its value to the local Sudanese community, and what the program means to him.   

An additional discussion focusing on African refugees will be held on Tuesday, April 15, at 6 p.m.  The program "Middlebury Students and Faculty on African Refugees" will be held at the Ilsley Public Library, located at 75 Main Street in Middlebury.  Middlebury College students from African countries will join with African Studies professors for an evening of stories and discussion about issues relating to African refugees.

The "In Their Own Words" program series was organized by Middlebury College student Lily Hamburger with supervision from Assistant Professor of Anthropology Michael Sheridan. The Vision & Voice Documentary Workspace at the Vermont Folklife Center is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. and Saturdays by appointment.

For more information about the "In Their Own Words" exhibit and program series, visit the Vermont Folklife Center's Web site www.vermontfolklifecenter.org or call 802-388-4964.

To follow is a calendar of events:

Thursday, March 6
7 p.m.  "The Association of Africans Living in Vermont: Refugee Resettlement and its Challenges"

Association of Africans Living in Vermont Director George Wright
Conference Room of Robert A. Jones '59 House, Middlebury College, located on Hillcrest Road, off College Street (Route 125)

Sunday, March 9
7 p.m.  "In Their Own Words: Refugees Tell Their Stories of Displacement and Resettlement in Vermont"

Coltrane Lounge of Adirondack House, Middlebury College, located on College Street (Route 125)

Tuesday, March 11
3:30 p.m. "Educators' Preview."
This program will offer an introduction and orientation to the exhibit for area educators.
Vision and Voice Documentary Workspace of the Vermont Folklife Center, located at 88 Main Street in Middlebury.

5:30 p.m.  "Gallery Talk by Ned Castle"
Photographer Ned Castle, who created the images for the exhibit at the Folklife Center, will discuss his motivation, the artistic and ethnographic processes, community connections, curricular ties, and long-term vision.
Vision and Voice Documentary Workspace of the Vermont Folklife Center, located at 88 Main Street in Middlebury.

Thursday March, 20
7:00 p.m. "The Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program"
VRRP Director Judy Scott and David Tabaruka, a refugee from Rwanda, will discuss the organization of the statewide refugee resettlement program and the experience of refugees in Vermont communities.
Hillcrest House - Room 103, Middlebury College, located on College Street (Route 125).

Monday April, 7
7:00 p.m. "The Social Equity Investment Project:  A Prescribed Solution to Cultural Shifting in Vermont"
Wanda Hines of the Burlington Community and Economic Development Office will talk about the cultural shift that is occurring in the Champlain Valley, and what we must do to ensure equality and respect for all.
Hillcrest House - Room 103, Middlebury College, located on College Street (Route 125).

Thursday April, 10
4:30 p.m. "Helping My Homeland From Afar:  the New Sudan Education Initiative"
Sudanese refugee and activist Abraham Awolich, co-director of the New Sudan Education Initiative (NESEI), will talk about NESEI, its mission, its importance to the local Sudanese community, and what it means to him.
Chateau Grand Salon, Middlebury College, located on College Street (Route 125).

Tuesday April, 15
6:00 p.m. "Middlebury Students and Faculty on African Refugees"
Middlebury College students from African countries will join with African Studies professors for an evening of sharing stories and discussing issues relating to refugees in Africa.
Ilsley Public Library, located at 75 Main Street in Middlebury.

For more information about the "In Their Own Words" exhibit and program series, visit the Vermont Folklife Center's Web site www.vermontfolklifecenter.org or call 802-388-4964.