You Are Invited!

You are invited to attend the opening of the Collaborative Gallery Show “Starting Over: Portraits of Refugee Life in Utica, NY”, the premier event in the Refugees Starting Over in Utica, NY project series. Free and open to the public!

Gallery opening reception from 4:30 – 6:30pm
Utica Firefly Documentary Storytelling Event at 7pm

Taking place at Gannet Gallery on the first floor of Kunsela Hall @ SUNY IT. Click here for directions and campus map: Collaborative Gallery Show will feature contributions by students, refugees and many of the groups and individuals who serve the refugee community in Utica. It is curated by Kathryn Stam, SUNYIT Assoc. Prof. of Anthropology, Kevin Volo, SUNYIT Instructional Technologist, and Katie Reilly, SUNYIT graduate student.

The Starting Over documentary is being produced by Geoff Storm and Ryan Miller of Utica Firefly.

Asian Folk Hour

Saturday, September 15th was the first Asian Folk Hour of the Utica Music and Arts Festival sponsored by Starting Over, Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, SUNYIT and UNSPOKEN Human Rights Festival. It was the first event of Starting Over and our goal was to introduce the project, and ultimately, to bring the people of Utica and the local refugee community closer together.

Asian Folk Hour featured two prominent Utica refugee groups, the Burmese and Bhutanese Nepali.

First up were the Bhutanese Nepali and we started with a young girl danced to a modern Nepali love song.


Then we had a group of Bhutanese Nepali musician and singers on stage. The Bhutanese Nepali women quickly joined them for some traditional dancing!

The Karen Burmese took the stage next, coordinated by our friend Daniel of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees.

There were two dancers and a musician who entertained the crowd with Burmese culture.

The Asian Folk Hour went by too quick, and soon we had to wrap things up. Our performers had a great time showcasing their talents and many Utica residents came up to us to say how appreciative they were of the chance to experience the culture!

Thanks so much to everyone who volunteered and coordinated this event.

Checking out the 2012 Redeemer Cup

Separately, we speak many different languages. But today, we all speak one language. That language is soccer.

Those remarks (more or less accurate) were part of the welcome to the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Redeemer Cup by main sponsor Chobani‘s CEO Hamdi Ulukaya. Ulukaya was one of the speakers getting the waiting teams and crowd pumped up and ready for the 3rd annual Redeemer Cup Soccer Tournament.

The Butanese Nepali Team getting pumped up!

Saturday June 2nd at Proctor Park in Utica began rainy and cold, but it seems as though the excitement for the Redeemer Cup burned it away. Upon arriving to the festivities I found over a dozen different brightly colored shirts milling around and getting organized, with team names on the back representing ethnic refugee groups and refugee community organizations such as the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees and Redeemer Church. At about 10:30 the procession of teams began – truly a sight to see. Each group marched through the crowd lead by a flag and sign holder. The signs signified the ethnic group, followed by the world American – i.e. “Polish American” or “Iraqi American” – as Redeemer Church’s Pastor Rick Andrews said, no matter where we come from, we are all Americans now. Each team that processed by was bursting with pride, but as the groups assembled there was a lot of interaction with the other groups.

Finally, the whistle blew and soccer began. Games continued on four fields throughout Saturday and into Sunday, with lots of friendly competition. Many members of both the refugee and local community came to support their friends and neighbors. Sunday’s final game came down to the Bosnian American team vs Liberian American, with Bosnian ultimately coming out on top!

Check out a preview of Starting Over’s photos below:

World Refugee Day

Save the Dates! This year, World Refugee Day 2012 is being celebrated by the Mohawk Valley Resource Center with a series of events in June.

Saturday, June 16- Family fun at the Utica Public Library
Tuesday, June 19- Short film showing at the Uptown Theatre – Hard Truth, Levity & Hope (also was shown at the 2011 UNSPOKEN Film Festival)
Wednesday, June 20- Culture Fair at DeSales Auditorium
Saturday June 23- Bookfair at Barnes & Noble

2011 World Refugee Day Celebration

Members from Starting Over will definitely be celebrating world refugee day, talking with the community and getting photo and video footage for our gallery project. We hope to see you there!

For more info, visit the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees here.

Redeemer Cup

In October of 2006, the New York Times wrote an article called Where Young Refugees Find a Place to Fit In. The article talks about soccer in Utica as a resource that brings new refugees together.

Many of the young refugees say they owe their survival here to soccer, a respite from trying, chaotic and often lonely lives (Santos, 2006).

Today, soccer is still a major part of refugee lives. I recently ran into a friend who came from Burma three years ago with her two sons. She said both her boys play soccer – she has to drive all over with them to games.

Redeemer Cup Teams

The Redeemer Church recognized this fact and in 2010 started the Redeemer Cup. The Redeemer Cup is a full on soccer tournament World Cup-style. It is designed so that each team represents a different cultural portion of our community. It  is becoming an annual event in the Utica, NY area and is a great way to support the community and encourage cultural unity.

Redeemer Church Rick Andrew organizes the event. Andrew said those interested must be between the ages of 15 and 50 to play. One leader of a team must organize a group to compete. There’s usually about 16 teams representing different refugee groups in the area.

The 2012 tournament will take place June 2nd and 3rd at Proctor Park in Utica. Starting Over will be there to document the event – be sure to look for the Redeemer Cup display at our Gallery event in December!

For more information, visit or check out this informational video: