Exhibit showcases talent and stories of refugee journeys through the eyes of youth.
Courtesy photo of artwork from last year's event.
EAST LANSING, MI -- Although federal restrictions are limiting the number of refugees allowed into the United States this year, youth who sought asylum in America and arrived in years past will share their stories and their journeys through art showcased at an exhibit in honor of World Refugee Week.
World Refugee Week begins June 16th, Samaritas will host an art show highlighting the works of refugee youth at Tabooli Restaurant located at 515 West Grand River Avenue in East Lansing, with an exhibit opening June 18th from 6-7 p.m.
The owner of Tabooli, Fathy Shetiah stated, “This art show event encourages diversity and the power behind it while bringing the community together. Anytime that we can give back to the community we are happy to do so!”
Using painting as their milieu, young refugees created worked related to their experiences – scenes from their home countries, situations that led to their flight, an experience along their journey, or perhaps something that resonates about their new life in America.
Due to a generous contribution of paints and supplies from Delta Dental, the partipants were able to see their ideas transformed into works of art.
“Enduring the trauma of displacement, our refugee youth are resilient,” says Sam Beals, Samaritas CEO. “Art is one medium through which refugee youth can share their stories and their anguish at having been uprooted and transported around the world. Hopefully, they can also use art to express their joy at finding freedom and building a new life here in Michigan.”
“This art exhibit is a brilliant representation of the power of youth to speak out and speak up about what they witness,” says Michelle Haskell, a Samaritas specialist in refugee foster care. “Showcasing these powerful works gives voice to the journey of the refugee and hopefully will educate others on what millions of displaced persons around the globe experience.”
In the past, participating youth have depicted a combination of their home country flag with the American flag, scenes from their home countries, a picture of school and quotes they found inspirational. Members of the community are invited to view the exhibit, meet the artists and learn about the work Samaritas does with New Americans.
Samaritas’ Unaccompanied Refugee Minor Program serves youth who flee war, violence or persecution. By the time they arrive to the United States, they’ve been separated from and often lost contact with parents and family members, often suffering unspeakable traumas.
Samaritas finds foster homes for most unaccompanied refugee youth; some who need more assistance to recover from immense traumas are placed in therapeutic foster care.
As they mature, they often graduate to a host home, with less supervision and more general guidance about how to live independently. Many refugee youth work with mentors, who are positive role models, helping them learn American customs and culture.
Refugee Week began in the United Kingdom and has been adopted around the world as a week every June to showcase the plight and progress of refugees. The goal is to create a better understanding between communities and encourage successful integration that enables refugees to live safely and make valuable contributions to their new homes. It is a good time to showcase the voices and stories of refugees, and welcome them to local communities.
Samaritas is the largest refugee resettlement agency in Michigan, and the fourth largest in the United States. Since 1949, the faith-based nonprofit has resettled thousands of people from around the world in Michigan communities.