Refugee/immigrant news: Photo exhibit brings back memories

Mike KnaakFeatured News, Print St. Joseph, St. Joseph0 Comments

Tani waa kuu muhiim adiga.  Fadlan aqri.

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Announcements brought to you by Cultural Bridges of St. Joseph, a committee of Central Minnesota Community Empowerment Organization. We are dedicated to ease your transition into our community.

by Martina Talic

A couple of weeks ago, I heard about a photography exposition by James A. Bowey at Benedicta Arts Center. The name of it, “When Home Won’t Let You Stay,” drew my attention right away and I knew I had to see it. The sadness and despair in the eyes of the refugees photographed took me back to 1991-1995, the time I spent in the refugee camp in Croatia.

Due to the civil war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, many families were displaced to neighboring countries as well as all over the world. My family was just one of them. We left home packed for the weekend and our visit to the Croatian coast extended to five years! As an 11-year-old, I did not understand the horrid consequences of the war. I do remember a sense of uncertainty and deep worry reflected in the adults’ eyes. For us younger generations, we viewed the world with the infinite hope that things will get better and the uncertainty meant the excitement about the future that holds only the best for us.

At the refugee camp, I made friendships that still last to the day. Crisis brings people together; it forms strong communities. Just think back 9/11, and how it brought the country together, at least for a short time. For us, it was five years of sharing everything we had. My friends and I shared food, clothes, books, little money we had, and time, above all, the time. We spent day and night together.

My family was not only my mom, dad and my siblings. When the food was ready, everybody was invited to the table. Adults looked out for each one of us, and when one was in trouble, all were in trouble. I look back with nostalgia and I miss a sense of selflessness that everybody carried around. But the war also makes me think about the abrupt transition from my childhood to adolescence.

I think that my childhood stopped the day we left our home. I remember my dad bringing my Barbie to the refugee camp two months into the war, but I could not play with it any longer. I simply was not interested in it any more. Nevertheless, I still wonder if I would have had a luxury of being a child just a bit longer if it wasn’t for the war.

photos by Juliana Howard
Martina Talic, a refugee from Croatia, was inspired by the show, “When Home Won’t Let You Stay,” to tell her story. She is a teacher at St. John’s Prep and resident of St. Joseph.

A note left at the show.

A note left at the show.


 

If you have any questions, please contact Juliana Howard at 715-791-8976 or Jamal Elmi at 320-310-2351.

Author: Mike Knaak

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