Snapshots of Resettlement: Digital Showcase of Images and Stories of Resettled Refugees in Utica, NY

Utica, NY is now home to about 14,000 refugees who were forced from their original homes due to political or ethnic conflict. They come from many different countries, for example, Bhutan, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Congo, Somalia, Sudan, Bosnia, Russia, the former Soviet Union, Iraq, and Yemen. Many people spent years or even decades in refugee camps before being resettled by the U.S. government. These snapshots of resettlement tell the stories of where the refugees came from, what their lives were like in refugee camps, and how things have turned out for them in central New York.

This site highlights the archived collection of images from the Starting Over project at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute (SUNY Poly). The “Refugees Starting Over in Utica, NY” project (www.startingoverutica.com), otherwise known as “Starting Over,” was founded in 2012 in order to increase student and community awareness and learn more about resettled refugees’ lives and stories. The project’s founders were Dr. Kathryn Stam (professor), Kevin Volo (instructional technologist), and Katie Reilly (graduate student) from the SUNY Polytechnic Institute. They were assisted in great measure by the student club, “American and Refugee Students for Closer Connection,” that was organized at Mohawk Valley Community College by student Ms. Pawsansoe Karen Bree.  The project also had support from staff and volunteers at the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees. Project personnel took, collected, and scanned photographs from a wide variety of sources, including Facebook pages (with permission) and photo albums of refugees themselves.

Photo and story submissions are welcome, as are comments and questions.

Many thanks to Doug Cohen, who designed the site as part of the requirements for the SUNY Poly online master’s degree in Information Design and Technology.