Mansfield’s Human Rights Commission is hosting a photo exhibit called “Building Bridges - -Portraits of Immigrants and Refugees” at Mansfield’s Library Express, part of the Nash-Zimmer Transportation Center in Downtown Storrs. The exhibit will be featured at the Celebrate Mansfield Festival on Saturday, September 24, and festival guests are encouraged to tour that day from 10 AM to 6 PM. The exhibit is available for viewing now through September 28.
“Building Bridges” is a collection of more than 20 portraits of families and individuals who have immigrated to the United States from countries across the world, such as Poland, Kazakhstan, India, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Bhutan and Mexico. Each photograph includes a moving first-person story about the person’s decision to come to this country, some as asylum-seekers, the journey and their experiences here. Creator Peggy Gillespie, who conducted the interviews with the subjects of the photographs, explains, “With the escalation of anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States, it feels crucial to understand why each individual in this exhibit originally came to the United States and what their lives are like now.”
Family Diversity Projects, headquartered in Massachusetts, created the exhibit. The Windham Region Interfaith Working Group brought the exhibit to this area with the support of The Hochberg Committee for Holocaust and Human Rights Education.
“We are honored to have the opportunity to feature this exhibit as part of our Mansfield Human Rights Commission exhibit at the Celebrate Mansfield Festival,” says Jane Fried, Commission Chair. “Our community is enriched by cultural diversity because we are home to a major university, plus this area has many residents who have immigrated from the Caribbean and countries in Latin and South America. We hope that our residents and visitors who see these stories will pause and think about the experience of newcomers to Mansfield and how we can provide a welcoming and inclusive experience,” she adds. The Human Rights Commission table will also have a map where people can mark their own country of origin, and will be displaying boxes that will posted around the community for reporting Human Rights concerns anonymously that should be addressed. They are co-exhibiting at the Celebrate Mansfield Festival with the Windham-Willimantic NAACP who is working to establish a youth council.
The Mansfield Library Express, at 23 Royce Circle, is open to the public Monday to Friday 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Saturday 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.