In the summer of 2015, the world was focused on Idomeni - a small village on the Greek-Macedonian border, where thousands of new refugees were finding themselves trapped every day. But the story of Idomeni as a crossing point started years before. Vasilis Tsartstanis, a resident of a neighboring village, was the first to begin taking photographs, videos and written testimonies of the perilous journeys of those he saw traveling north. Years later, his work offers unique insight into the history of this migratory route and the struggles of those who have taken it.
This summer, he combined his materials with the work of other photographers, filmmakers and journalists working at critical crossing points to create an exhibition. Beginning in Greece’s famed Bensousan Han, the exposition will be traveling around Europe for the next six months.
I’m proud to have my work on display alongside his and honored to represent the critical Spanish-Moroccan borders found in Ceuta and Melilla. I believe these borders - the only European borders found on the African continent - are the frontlines of a little seen battle against Africa’s rapidly expanding population of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. This exposition will help bring their stories to light.
More images from the next stops on our expo trail (Italy, Spain, France, Germany, UK) coming soon...!
What happens when 20 American college students and
10 college-aged migrants and refugees living across 4 continents
spend 1 semester working together
to create solutions to our global migration crisis?
THEY EXCEED ALL EXPECTATIONS.
"For many college students, the growing global migrant and refugee crisis may seem a tragic but distant reality.
But for 20 Emory students, the challenges faced by our world’s displaced took on real-life dimensions this semester through an anthropology seminar that had them working together with migrants and refugees from across four continents.
"Anthropology 385: The Migrant and Refugee Crisis" created a first-person understanding by requiring students to work with community partners, understand their lives and needs, and propose sustainable solutions to address their biggest barriers to success.
The course was designed and taught by Dr. Isabella Alexander, a cultural anthropologist and Assistant Visiting Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Emory University. Her research focuses on the socio-political realities of transitional migration in some of our world’s most critical border regions, and her connections to displaced populations in Atlanta and around the world made community partnerships with her students possible..."
Anna, Kavelle & Maryajose (Colombia - US)
A platform for DACA recipients to share their stories, raising public awareness about our country’s current immigration policies and the contributions undocumented migrants make to our communities.
Alison, Neehal & Eva (Syria - Lebanon)
An online database providing refugees (in their native languages) with health literacy and info on low- and no-cost clinics, medication and healthcare resources in their communities.
LAWYERS WITHOUT BORDERS
Gordon, Kevin, Shoba & Rafael (Mexico - US)
A legal aid program connecting undocumented migrants in the U.S. with law students seeking to learn more about immigration law and local firms seeking to donate pro-bono hours. (Specializations: Labor abuse, citizenship, business incorporation)
MORE THAN A MIGRANT
Adama, Mialovena, Mamadou (Guinea - France) & Bah (Sierre Leone - Morocco)
A platform for African migrants to share their stories and report abuses, raising public awareness about our world’s largest migrant population and providing human rights advocates with critical info on the types, locations and frequencies of abuse on a global scale.
GENERATIONS OF DIVIDE
Abbe, Sarah & Saeed (Syria - Brazil)
An educational program to fight racism against refugees in the largest refugee-receiving country through videos on Syria and Lebanon’s unique history, and interactive classroom experiences led by local college students in high schools around the country.
Lilla, Trishanne & Maryajose (Colombia - US)
An app providing undocumented high school students in the U.S. with info on colleges and universities open to them, and connecting them to low- and no-cost application resources in their communities.
Alina, Peter & Mona (Syria - Lebanon)
An online marketplace for migrant and refugee artists to sell their work across borders, and connect with other artists in their new communities on collaborative art projects.
THE MIGRANT ACTION MOVEMENT
Jazmin, Natalia & Rafael (Mexico - US)
An anonymous platform for migrants to report abuses, providing organizations and individuals fighting for migrants’ rights with critical info on the types, locations and frequencies of abuse in the U.S.
THE RESETTLEMENT PATHWAY
Yasmeen & Asalah (Syria - Italy)
A step-by-step program providing refugees with the financial literacy education and resources needed to manage their transition to independence over their first twelve months in a new country.
FRIENDSHIP BEYOND BORDERS
Konya, Mikaila, Sophia, Alyssa & Khatera (Afghanistan - US)
A peer mentorship program connecting refugee and non-refugee girls to support one another and raise cultural understanding throughout their high school journeys.
Almost every day, I receive messages from the ‘brotherhoods’ - bands of migrants hiding out in the forests surrounding the two Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in Morocco’s northern mountain region. The brotherhoods come together along lines of shared nationality. The youngest boys are usually 11 or 12 years old, and the chief of each group is one of the elders - a young man in his early to mid twenties. Most of the ‘brothers’ have traveled thousands of miles on their own, fleeing war or poverty in their home countries and dreaming of a better life just past the Morocco-Spain border. When they’re fortunate enough to have a few old blankets or plastic tarps to share between them, they couple these supplies with tree limbs and ‘rope’ made by tearing apart old t-shirts to construct makeshift tents. Piling into each tent, 10 or 12 brothers will sleep side by side on the ground, protecting themselves from the cold winds and rains that settle over the mountains during this time of the year. These are the happiest messages that I receive - messages like this one from the Guinean chief, which included photos of his brothers proudly building a safe place that they could call home.
#TheBurning #Brotherhood #UntoldStories #MigrantCrisis #Africa
And these are the saddest messages that I receive - messages like this one from the same Guinean chief, which this time included photos of the makeshift tents that his brothers had so proudly built just days before now burned to the ground by last night’s police raid on their forest home.
#TheBurning #Brotherhood #UntoldStories #MigrantCrisis #Africa #PoliceBrutality #BLM
In the 65 million who are displaced, there is the story of one. In the thousands who have already lost their lives in attempted crossings this year, there is still the story of one.
One whose mother holds tight the shoes he wore when he was small and who all through the night wailed to any god who would listen. Begging for the months passed to be washed away, for the miles walked to be reversed, for her son to be standing beside her again. She wails still, feeling the weight of her mourning heavy on her - the full weight of mourning a death the world is silent to. Does no one know she lost her son last night? Does no one cry? Does no one remember the way he used to tuck his shoelaces into those little shoes because he was too stubborn, too fast, too eager to run into the world to learn how to tie? She remembers how he clung to her as a child, how he strayed from her as a boy, she remembers how he hugged her tight that last morning before he left - too stubborn, too fast, too hopeful about what the world was holding for him.
In the 65 million, there is still the story of one. One whose life is over before 15, whose feet carried him 3,000 miles towards the promise of a future, whose hands lifted him up and down again into a wall of wooden batons. In the masses, may we remember the one.
You are seen. Your story is heard. Your life is remembered, and my brother, you will be missed.
I'm honored to be speaking at the Center for Civil and Human Rights for #worldrefugeeday... If you're in Atlanta, please come out and show your support!
"Most foundational to our international human rights law is the belief that all citizens of the world should be guaranteed the right to seek refuge in other countries when driven out of their own by war or poverty."
"Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development" - Kofi Annan
Heard about DACA in the news? Now hear about it from your community. Watch this weeks video posts here!
This week, I was thrilled to officially join the Speaker Series at Atlanta's most innovative high school - TNS - and speak to the newest generation of change-makers about how they can be the change they want to see in the world.
The topic? COMMUNITY.
"The community I feel most a part of is one you might not expect when first looking at me.
It's a hidden community - hidden in the forests that cover the mountains around a town called Zoutia.
It's a changing community. Depending on the time of the year, it's as small as 10,000 or as large as many tens of thousands.
It's a young community. In fact, it's made up of young people who are just your age. The youngest is usually 11 or 12 years old and the 'elders' are 24 or 25, but the majority of them are teenagers just like you.
It's a male community, with around 90% of the population being boys and young men.
It's a diverse community - comprised of individuals from across the African continent. Most are coming from countries in Western and Central Africa - countries like Sierra Leone, the Congo, and Cote D'Ivoire - and they live together in 'brotherhoods' that are divided along lines of nationality and common language.
This community is home to those who have lost their parents to war or poverty and who, as the eldest in their families, were expected to set out in search of a better life. It's their responsibility to provide for their younger siblings and their own communities offered them no way to do that, so they journeyed north, often traveling thousands of miles on their own until they reach their final border crossing.
Now, who can tell me where this community is?"
@newsincerity | The Other Side of the Border
"American professor and filmmaker Isabella Alexander was wrapping up her latest film shoot when the Algerian government stopped her – she was detained for almost two weeks.
When she was finally released and returned to the US, she immediately began planning her next trip back. Why? She needed to finish work on her film before the fall semester started at Emory University, and she wasn't about to to let anything stop her. These are stories that need to be told.
Her documentary “The Burning" (@smallworldfilms) follows three individuals who’ve fled poverty and wars raging across Africa. They find themselves trapped in Morocco – a Northern point of the African continent – before attempting to cross into Europe and find safety in a new life. The film shows us the immense suffering they must endure to reach their destination and the dreams they share.
Whether abroad or at home in Atlanta, Isabella is helping migrant and refugees tell their stories. She even created a course at Emory called "The New Americans Project" (@newamericansproject). It's centered around a student-led social media project that shares the stories of immigrant and refugee students on campus every week and gives youth a platform to share their voice on critical social issues.
“What's unique about NAP is that it targets youth audiences to become active in the global issues of our time, showing us that these issues are a lot closer to home than we might first imagine. You don't have to travel halfway around the world to meet someone whose life has been impacted by migration - we can start by asking our neighbors if they have a story to tell.”
Finding ways to forge personal connections with neighbors from different cultures is the essence of #NewSincerity so, stay tuned – we’ll be reconnecting with Isabella, The Burning, and The New Americans Project soon!"
The New Americans Project is a movement that gives young Americans a voice on critical social issues and works to change the face of the Migrant & Refugee 'Crisis' by sharing stories from our own community.
We've got an incredible new team of college students [see below!] running #NAP this semester, and they want you to know...
"#NAP is telling a new story about what it means to be American. Think you know your community? Think again."
Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to show your support for those who bravely share their stories every day!