Tales of integration: members of the Arlington community and refugees share their stories
“We recognize that we cannot undo hundreds of years of history or things that may happen elsewhere, but at least here in our community [Arlington], we can affirmatively stand up and say that not only do we believe that all are welcome, but we are going to build our local community to make that so….”
“I also have the grace and humility to recognize that as much as that may be something that I believe and my colleagues from the Arlington County board believe, what makes it possible are the community, the individuals, and most notably organizations such as ECDC that actually put this into practice.” —Christian Dorsey, Vice-chair of Arlington County Board. Dorsey was speaking on Friday at a ceremony to launch ECDC’s storytelling and portraiture exhibition.
ECDC’s project, funded by Virginia Humanities, is a presentation and discussion about refugee integration in Northern Virginia. The photo and audio exhibit showcase the stories of individuals resettled in Virginia communities and the roles individuals from those communities have played in welcoming them.
Learning from these two perspectives will contribute to a greater understanding of individuals’ important role in creating diverse communities.
“What we have been doing at Virginia Humanities all these years is to create opportunities for everyone involved to grow in our humanity by understanding each other, where we came from, and how we got here. I want to thank ECDC for the opportunity to support this work.” David Bearinger, Senior Director, Grants & Global Virginia Programs, at Virginia Humanities. He thanked Lloyd Wolf for taking the photographs and all who participated in sharing their stories.
“Recording stories of newcomers is significant. We have done only a small portion. We hope to continue doing this kind of work with as many newcomers as possible because that is a record of their beginning to establish their place here in our community.
Twenty, thirty, and fifty years from now, it will be an important asset for their children and communities. We thank Virginia Humanities for supporting this small project, which we consider a seed that will grow to document the stories of many other communities,” said Tsehaye Tefera, Ph.D., President and CEO of ECDC.
Arlington County Board members Matt de Ferranti and Takis P. Karantonis, representatives of Virginia Humanities, guests from the community, and ECDC staff attended the exhibition, which is available online on ECDC’s website.