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 examined the histories and political situations in the homelands of our new neighbors through a series of public events featuring presentations and panel discussions from experts, professionals and recent new comers. We also learned about their journeys to our area and what our communities can do to ease their transitions.
In addition to the public events, the New Neighbors Series featured a series of short films which features the stories of recent newcomers in Central Wisconsin. The three short films profile families from Afghanistan, Nicaragua, and Congo, and their journeys from their homelands to their new homes in Central Wisconsin.
The New Neighbor Series is a collaboration between the Ethiopian Community Development Council, Rise Up Central Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, Wisconsin Humanities, and Wisconsin Public Radio.
Forced Displacement – The View from 10,000 Feet
January 11, 7 p.m., UW Center for Civic Engagement, Veninga Theater
For the first event in the New Neighbors Series, we were joined by Dr. Neamat Nojumi and Bojana Zorić Martinez. View the recording of the event below.
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 – Director of the Bureau of Refugee Programs with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families 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.
In Spring 2023, a short film series, “New Neighbors: Refugee Resettlement and Asylum-Seeking in Central Wisconsin,” premiered at two public events in Stevens Point and Wausau. The three short films, which are now available to watch online, profile families from Afghanistan, Nicaragua, and Congo, and their journeys from their homelands to their new homes in Central Wisconsin.
The films were created for the New Neighbors Series, a public event series which examines the situations in the homelands of recent newcomers to the Central Wisconsin area, and their experiences here in the U.S.
Screenings of the films took place April 12, at UW Stevens Point, and May 6, at Whitewater Music Hall in Wausau. Following the premieres, filmmaker Laura Hunt and some of the new neighbors featured in the films participated in a Q&A session about their experiences.