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Refugee Forum: Communicating Utah Refugee Stories

April 10th, 2023 | LNCO 2910 | 3:00 - 4:30 PM

The Department of Communication and the Utah Refugee Workforce Services collectively explore the notion that storytelling necessitates both reflexive narrators and empathic audiences. More than 60,000 refugees are currently living in Utah, contributing to the most vibrant diversities in our local communities. They have brought their distinctive culture, languages, life experiences, and stories to share with us. How do refugees communicate their stories? How do they navigate audience expectation, a hegemonic narrative (gratitude), and the limited means of representation? How can we as fellow community members share the burden of communicating the incommunicable? How can we become co-witnesses who empathetically participate in the process of storytelling instead of voyeuristically consuming sensationalized stories? How can we create a reflexive storytelling platform where we become more attentive to "how is told" as opposed to "what is told" and thus imagine "what it might have been" as opposed to "what it was"? With the refugee panelists, we aim at identifying actionable items for communicating refugee stories that we can apply in our classrooms, workplace, neighborhood, and beyond.

Introductory remarks by Asha Parekh (the director of the Refugee Services Office at the Department of Utah
Workforce Services).

Facilitated by Dr. Suhi Choi and Communication graduate students of a memory class (Jessie Chaplain, Frankie Gigray, Caleb Okereke, Carlos Pelyao, Yiging Ran, Kinny Torre).

Featured Panelists 


a refugee from South Sudan (an artist, the founder of the African Refugee Artist Club, a volunteer art teacher in Refugee Camps in Kenya, Uganda, and Sudan, and a refugee community program supervisor in the department of Utah Workforce Services]


a refugee from Congo/Uganda (the author of Undefeated Women (2022), the CEO and the founder of unDEfeated (a nonprofit organization for underprivileged youth and women in Uganda))


a refugee from Afghanistan (a finance manager, the former social media coordinator in a TV network in Afghanistan)

Last Updated: 3/28/23