NIRV Topic: Refugees in America
Here are three films from the New Immigrant and Refugee Visions (NIRV) collection – films by and about immigrants – that are about, and in two of the cases, by refugees. Before you watch them, please review the “Questions-to-consider…” at the bottom of this page.
- Seeking Settled Ground, by Mohammad Arifuzzaman, 13 min – about a newly arrived Rohingya refugee.
- Navigating Hope, by Afghan refugee Sayed Najib Hashimi, 8 min – about a Christian refugee from Bhutan;
- Worlds Apart at Home, by Somali refugee Abdirahman Abdi, 9 min – about Somali refugees dealing with cultural divisions between generations;
Editors: Devvrat Mishra, Zayde Buti; Translators: Mustafa Samdani, Nahina Nasrin, and Mohammad Istiak
Emigrated from Bangladesh in 2015, lives in Quincy, MA
Mohammad is a software engineer with interests in music, theater and photography. He demonstrated incredible determination throughout the NIRV filmmaking process – filming all of one story only to have the family grow fearful about participating. His story about Mohammad Anwar is particularly relevant as so many Rohingya refugees have sought refuge in Bangladesh, his country of origin.
About the filmmaking process and filmmaker:
- WBUR, The ARTery, “Created by Immigrants, 10 Films Highlight The New Immigrant And Refugee Experience,” by Erin Trahan, Boston, MA – March 21, 2019
About Mohammad Anwar, the subject of the film:
- WGBH-Radio, four-part series on Mohammad Anwar, by Gabrielle Emanuel, Boston, MA – 2017-19
About the issues raised in the film:
- The New Humanitarian, “The Rohingya: A humanitarian emergency decades in the making,” March 25, 2019
- Pew Research Center, “Key facts about Trump administration’s proposed changes to family-based immigration and refugee admissions,” by Jens
Emigrated from Afghanistan in 2016, lives in Washington, DC
Sayed grew up in Afghanistan and was a refugee in Pakistan. He has a degree in literature from Kabul University. He worked from 2005 to 2016 as a journalist and translator with the BBC and NATO Media Group in Afghanistan. In Nov 2016 Sayed and his family were granted permanent residency through the Special Immigration Visa to the United States. Until recently he worked at the New American Center in Lynn MA assisting Afghan and other new immigrants and refugees. He and his family now live in Washington DC where Sayed is working as a Communications Officer at the Afghan Embassy.
Editor: Peter Rhodes; Additional Sound: Mubarak Muwonge Nsamba
Emigrated from Somalia in 2007, lives in Roxbury, MA
Abdi came to America as a young boy and has remained active in his local and Somali community. He has volunteered his time and multi-media production skills to advance the work of the Somali Development Center and the North American Somali Students Union. Abdi graduated in May 2018 from UMass Boston with a degree in media communications and sociology. With continued mentoring from CSFilm, he has continued since the NIRV training to produce short documentaries on economic and social issues in his Roxbury neighborhood. Abdi was hired in 2020 as a freelance videographer and editor by Boston news station, WCVB-TV, Ch 5.
About the filmmaker and film:
- WBUR, The ARTery, “To Bridge Language Barrier Between Immigrant Generations, This Somali-American Is Making A Film,” by Maria Garcia, Boston, MA – November 21, 2017
About the issues brought up by the film:
- Emmanuel College, “I’ve Been Told My Whole Life What Muslims Girls CAN’T DO,” by Jamad Finn, Boston, MA – January 13, 2019
- Washington Post, “Boston mosque aims to keep young Somali immigrants off the streets,” by Omar Sacirbey – July 12, 2012
- The New Humanitarian, “Somalia’s climate change refugees: Forced off their land by drought, rural families face a precarious existence in Mogadishu” – February 21, 2018
- Al Jazeera-World, “Somalia: The Forgotten Story,” by Hamza Ashrif – November 2, 2016
- ESRI, “A Story Map: Somalia’s Refugee Crisis,”
About Issues of Acculturation and Assimilation:
- Cato Institute, “Assimilation and Integration of US Immigrants and Their Descendants,” by Alex Nowrasteh and Andrew C. Forrester, February 4, 2019
- The Atlantic Monthly, “Should Immigration Require Assimilation?” by Tom Gjelten, October 3, 2015
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “Acculturation, Development and Adaptation of Youth and Young Adults” by Rothe, Tzuang and Pumariega, 2010
Questions to Consider While Watching These Films
- In what ways has this film affected the way you view refugees and asylum seekers? What was the specific moment that triggered this?
- Have you ever been misunderstood or stereotyped? Have you ever witnessed someone being misunderstood or stereotyped? Were you able to take any action to change the situation? What happened?
- What do you want to change in your community after “meeting” these immigrants and learning about their experiences? (e.g., Individual behaviors? Public policies? Local media perspectives of your immigrant neighbors?)
- What stood out to you? What will you tell your friends about?
- What did you relate to? What reminded you of things in your own life?
- What felt unfamiliar, new or surprising?