Field Trip with New Hartford High School and local Refugee Students

On December 19th, the Global History class of Susie Hamilton at New Hartford High School came for a visit to the Refugees Starting Over Gallery Show. The students came to learn more about refugee resettlement and life in refugee camps.

Photo by Matthew Kopytowski
Photo by Matthew Kopytowski

We are so grateful that the American and Refugee Students for Closer Connection (ARSCC) were able to participate in the field trip. These young refugees volunteered their time to meet with the American high school students in smaller break out groups where they discussed their lives and cultural changes after moving to Utica.

The students and volunteers

It was a great learning experience for the high school students and fun for the refugee students to interact with all. Thanks to all who participated!

Gallery Show Success!

Our Collaborative Gallery Show premiere on November 30th at SUNYIT was a huge success! We had a great turnout, including friends, community members and many from the refugee community!

Gallery Visitors

Starting at 4:30pm, “Starting Over: Portraits of Refugee Life in Utica, NY” at the Gannet Gallery was finally open for viewing. We worked on this project for over eight months and it was such a relief to be able to share our work!

Around 6pm, we moved down the hall to Gannet Gallery for the World Music Event.

Some of the crowd for the World Music Event

We haso many people come to check out this event, the Kunsela Auditorium was practically filled. During World Music Event we featured SUNYIT student Erica on piano, then Karen-Burmese refugee and Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees employee Daniel Cribb performing Songs of Love and Peace, and finally a group of Bhutanese-Nepali performers singing and dancing to various folk and traditional songs. Check out this playlist on YouTube of the performances:

Around 7pm we introduced Utica Firefly documentary appropriately called ‘Starting Over,” produced by Geoff Storm and Ryan Miller. We are so happy and proud of how this turned out and thankful to the film’s participants.

Starting Over from Utica Firefly on Vimeo.

Check out bonus footage from the documentary on our website!

We ended the night with live stories from the audience. We had many community and refugee members participate and it was a moving and enlightening experience for many.

Pawser Soe, telling her story during Utica Firefly Storytelling Hour

Thank you so much to the local media who came out to support the show!
Check out the story from the Utica OD and WKTV!

For more information on this project, please keep an eye on our Facebook page!


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.