New Neighbors Series

In 2022, Central Wisconsin welcomed more than 175 refugees from countries like Afghanistan, Congo, Syria and Burundi. In addition, an unknown number of immigrants arrived here seeking asylum from places such as Nicaragua and Venezuela.

The New Neighbors Series, featured two public events, examined the histories and political situations in the homelands of our new neighbors. Additionally, we learned about their journeys to our area and learn what our communities can do to ease their transitions.

This series is a collaboration between the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, Wisconsin Humanities, Ethiopian Community Development Council, and Wisconsin Public Radio. Both events are free and open to the public, registration is not required.

 Forced Displacement – The View from 10,000 Feet 

January 11, 7 p.m., UW Center for Civic Engagement, Veninga Theater  

Dr. Neamat Nojumi – Dr. Nojumi served as a military commander and senior political officer for the Freedom Fighter Forces against the Soviet military invasion of Afghanistan. He went on to serve as a Senior Social Scientist and Senior Advisor to the U.S. government.


Bojana Zorić Martinez – Refugee Resettlement Coordinator for the state of Wisconsin and a former refugee herself, Zorić Martinez has been involved the resettlement of refugees in the state since 2017.



Welcoming Our New Neighbors

January 25, 2023, 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

“Welcoming Our New Neighbors,” was a panel discussion on the process of welcoming recent newcomers to Central Wisconsin. The event took  place January 25, 7 p.m. at the UW Center for Civic Engagement and streamed online.

The discussion was moderated by Wisconsin Public Radio’s Shereen Siewert with guests from the Ethiopian Community Development Council, New Beginnings for Refugees and others. Interpretation was offered both in-person and for the live stream in Dari, Pashto, Swahili, Hmong and Spanish.

Panelists included, Eric Yonke from the Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC), Emmanuel Tuyaga, a new neighbor from Burundi, Nasiah Herr from New Beginnings for Refugees and the Hmong American Center, Francisco Guerrero from the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, and Erik Anderson, M.D., from the ECDC co-sponsorship program.

View event flyer.