Thank You – Check Out the Action You Took for Immigrants and Refugees Across the US in 2020

December 16, 2020

2020 has thrown a lot of curve balls at us.  But thanks to so many of you, the New Immigrant and Refugee Visions events were re-envisioned as an online Screen&Discuss experience – and to great success.


While Corona Virus forced the cancelation of 7 in-person events in March and April.  We learned together the ways of online presentations and since then have held 16 events online and in the process have learned valuable lessons about the benefits of online events and the value they can provide going forward.


The online environment allowed us to bring in participants and audience members from all across the country. That wouldn’t have been possible in-person. It allowed us to discuss the issues ‘face-to-face’ – even if the faces and voices were on a screen – and it worked really well.


Your organizing and support raised awareness across the country to the challenges faced by immigrants and the contributions they make to our culture, economy, and social fabric.




In total since the first event in 2018, there have been 56 events in 36 communities across 14 states, plus 5 national events. 2,135 people attended events. 3,155 people viewed the films online, independent of events. In the process we reached out to 35 national organizations and to nearly 400 regional and local organizations across the country.


Check out these insights from audience members and presenters at the many different events across the country:


“I loved this presentation! The movies were a much needed wake-up call and hearing from so many different points of view was refreshing!”

“Seeing and hearing how difficult it is for immigrants to fit in makes me want to raise awareness and change the minds of the anti-immigration people in my hometown.”

“I never realized how long some immigrants are in refugee camps before arriving to the United States.”

“I learned about my own biases and how they impact others. I also learned how different the [immigrant] stories were from what I thought.”

“I think as Americans we need to be more open to those who are simply trying to make a better life for themselves.”

The Challenges Faced

From: World Refugee Day NIRV Film Festival, Peace Corps Community for Refugees, June 20, 2020

“I came from a country where everyone looked like me and I had to learn how to be a black man in the US.”

“You have to learn how to maneuver through the system … to make sure you are the ‘perfect minority.’”

— Awale Farah, a Somali-American engineer and city council candidate in Kent, WA

“I wish people had believed in me when I came to this country.”

— Mani Biswa, Bhutanese refugee, film subject, Navigating Hope

From: Screen&Discuss Brunch hosted by Showing-Up-for-Racial-Justice, October 4, 2020:

“I’ve never been more afraid for the women in my community.”

– Abdirahman Abdi, Somali refugee and director of Worlds Apart at Home

From: NIRV Screen&Discuss, Alabama Interfaith Refugee Partnership, July 14, 2020:

“Most of us are living in multi-generation households. If one person becomes sick, the whole family gets infected.”

– Qin Li, Director of Campaign for a New American

“This COVID19 crisis, with immigrants/refugees on the front lines with devastating consequences is important for all U.S. citizens to be aware of. The rhetoric about immigration is troubling and it prevents voters from making choices that benefit immigrants and themselves. With climate change disasters continuing worldwide, our nation must grapple thoughtfully and humanely with the issue of migration.”

These Films ‘Normalize’ Us

From: NIRV Screen&Discuss, Alabama Interfaith Refugee Partnership, July 14, 2020

“These films ‘normalize’ us — you can see yourself in someone else’s story and I think that’s really important.”

– Gaby, a first generation Venezuelan-American

The Contributions Refugees Make

From: World Refugee Day NIRV Film Festival, Peace Corps Community for Refugees, June 20, 2020

“The misperception about refugees are that they create more crime, take away jobs, are a drain on the economy…none of which are true. In fact they pay more taxes than they get in assistance … and are doing many of the frontline jobs.”

– Michael McGirr, Event Facilitator, returned Peace Corps volunteer

“As Bhutanese refugees, we were able to become role models in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Columbus, Ohio.”

– Mani Biswa, Bhutanese refugee; refugee resettlement case worker in Columbus, Ohio; subject of Navigating Hope

Through Storytelling We Understand Each Other

From: Screen&Discuss Brunch hosted by Showing-Up-for-Racial-Justice, October 4, 2020

“I really appreciated these films and the work that went into them. I have always believed that storytelling is the most powerful way to begin to understand others and their backgrounds, and [these] documentary [films] have just proved that to me even more.” 

“We need more advocacy and films like these to raise awareness.”

– Rahmatullah Aka, Community Services Manager at International Institute of New England

Ways That You Can Help Refugees and New Immigrants

From: World Refugee Day NIRV Film Festival, Peace Corps Community for Refugees, June 20, 2020

“I have seen for 40 years in of all places, Northeast Georgia, [native-born Americans] falling in love with refugees from all over the world. … Learning to meet people and to love them across all kind of barriers… I’ve heard this kind of spirit tonight. I want to get these movies and to show them to other people. I’m so inspired by what you folks are doing.”

– Don Mosely, event participant; returned Peace Corps volunteer; Jubilee Partners volunteer, Georgia

“This administration has cut a lot of funding …due to lack of funding [the refugee resettlement agencies] were not able to provide [vocational] training or even ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes.”

– Mani Biswa, Bhutanese refugee; refugee resettlement case worker in Columbus, Ohio; subject of Navigating Hope

“The system (SNAP, Medicaid, COVID assistance) is incredibly difficult. In every community…people with a little bit of time and people who know how to navigate the system can really help [refugees].”

– Evelyn Ganzglass, event participant, returned Peace Corps volunteer, DC

“Not being shy about asking questions… advocating for people in your community…accompanying someone to an appointment…being fluent in English is a huge asset already.”

– Suzy Khachaturyan, Policy Analyst, North Carolina Justice Center and a Peace Corps volunteer

Audience response from:Hello! West Hartford – New Immigrant and Refugee Visions Screen&Discuss event on September 13th, 2020!

  • “Amazing personal stories from the panelists and filmmakers like Esam and Abdi shared.  Wow, what struggles and sacrifice! Your panelists remind us that we all need to share grace, especially during these times.  Please do more of these!”
  • “All of the films and discussion motivated me. The immigrants who presented are so hard-working and passionate about the cause.”
  • “I will do everything I can to help vote in a new administration and demand changes to make life easier for immigrants.”

See all the events and impact here!  Thank you to all the organizers, hosts, speakers and audiences across the country.

Related Posts:

McMillan Stewart Foundation supports CSFilm online training

McMillan Stewart Foundation supports CSFilm online training

Community Supported Film (CSFilm) wrote a new proposal to seek support for the development of our online documentary training (ODT). We are pleased to announce that the McMillan Stewart Foundation generously granted $20,000 for this two-year project. ODT will train community activists, journalists, and other grassroots storytellers in documentary filmmaking – from story development through post-production.


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