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Posters hang in front of the Empire Building on Demers Avenue in Grand Forks. The posters were created with the help of Global Friends, a local non-profit specializing in refugee integration, and 14 elementary school children from refugee families. Each poster depicts each families culture and their journey to America. (Luke Franke/Grand Forks Herald)

Images from Nepal, other countries inspire colorful posters on display in Grand Forks

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Images from Nepal, other countries inspire colorful posters on display in Grand Forks
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Images from Nepal and other countries inspired a set of colorful posters on display at the Grand Forks Empire Arts Center.

Designed by 14 English Language Learners who attend Winship Elementary School, the posters are filled with images derived from their native countries — rice fields, mountains, prayer flags.

The posters were first featured at the World Refugee Fair and now will be displayed at the theater, where they will remain until July 10.

The art project is the largest one funded by the Solomon David-Schill Memorial Fund, which was created to allow New American children opportunities to participate in community activities, according to Cynthia Shabb, executive director of the Global Friends Coalition, which helps immigrants adapt to life in Grand Forks.

Chrissy Dewey, English language learner teacher at Winship, said the project gave her students a chance to talk about their past experiences. She led the summer school program where the artwork was produced.

With more than 18 different languages spoken in her classes, representing several different countries, their stories varied, she said. 

Several recalled animals and scenery from their lives before coming to the U.S. One student talked about helping build fires to keep the wild animals at bay, while another said an elephant destroyed his house, she said.

“We talk (here) about seeing bears in the forest,” she said. “Well, an elephant actually came to their house looking for rice and trampled part of it.”

She said her students really took ownership of the project, painting and drawing the images on their own, with some help from local artist Sheila Dalgliesh.

“They were really proud,” Dewey said. “They wanted to see it through.”  

Jennifer Johnson
Jennifer Johnson is the K-12 education reporter for The Grand Forks Herald.  Contact her if you have any story ideas or tips and visit 
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