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Children & Family, Adults, Teens

Personal Connections: African Migration for Women in Roanoke

Saturday, August 25, 2018

2:00pm - 3:00pm

Please join us in the Taubman Theater for an exciting, free panel discussion that examines the current trends and challenges in global migration by looking at the issue through the eyes of African women who have migrated to the Roanoke Valley through the U.S. refugee resettlement program.

This event serves as a counterpart to the exhibition, Reclamation: Pan-African Works from the Beth Rudin DeWoody Collection, on view in the Museum’s Medical Facilities of America Gallery and the Temporary Exhibition Gallery through September 9.

The "Personal Connections" panel session will be facilitated by Michele Deramo, Ph.D, assistant provost for diversity education at Virginia Tech.

Stephanie Holladay, executive director of Blue Ridge Literacy, will also serve on the panel. Blue Ridge Literacy helps provide resettlement services and English language/literacy support to more than 450 immigrants and refugees per year, nearly 20% of whom are from African nations.

Rounding out the panel to speak of their personal migration experiences will be Jebet Kibogy, a refugee from Kenya, and Evelyne Nzikobaynanka, a refugee from Burundi.

Kibogy and Nzikobaynanka were among various local African refugees who participated in the “Personal Connections to Reclamation” project by sharing their stories, as inspired by various works from the Reclamation art exhibition. The resulting “Personal Connections” book features unique stories from Roanoke residents who have recently resettled from Africa and is available to the public in the galleries.

Panel session attendees will be able to access these books and also tour the Reclamation exhibition, which, by popular demand, has been extended for an extra week through September 9, 2018.

About the Facilitator:
Michele C. Deramo is assistant provost for diversity education at Virginia Tech. In 2004, she joined a community effort to resettle five Somali Bantu families in Blacksburg. This transformative experience prompted her to create a service-learning program connecting Virginia Tech students to newcomer communities in Roanoke. The program continues today as a student-led effort.

Dr. Deramo went on to earn her doctorate in social and cultural theory, examining narrative identity construction in diaspora. Currently, she is working with colleagues at Virginia Tech to design an interdisciplinary minor in Displacement Studies.

About the Panelists:
Stephanie Holladay has served several different roles at Blue Ridge Literacy since 2012. Holladay is currently the executive director and is passionate about helping literacy learners in the Roanoke Valley by providing sustainable and effective language programs. She received her BA in English from Roanoke College and will receive her MA in Applied Anthropology from the University of North Texas this spring. Holladay is the volunteer steering committee chair of the Local Colors festival and sings with the Roanoke Valley Choral Society. When she isn't working, volunteering, or singing, you can find her on the greenway with her three dogs, Luna, Arlo, and Remy.

Jebet Kibogy is originally from Eldoret, Kenya. She came to America as a college student on a student visa and is now a U.S. citizen. She has lived in Roanoke for over 10 years and is the proud mother of a five-year-old son. She says her most important job has been to be a mother.

Evelyne Nzikobaynanka, originally from Burundi, moved to the Roanoke Valley nearly 15 years ago. She currently resides in Roanoke with her husband and two children.

“Personal Connections to Reclamation” is a collaborative project between the Taubman Museum of Art and Blue Ridge Literacy, with funding provided by Virginia Humanities.

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