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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘Emotion transcends language’: Ulrich exhibit features stories from refugee families

The Ulrich Museum of Art recently curated an exhibit to spotlight the experiences of refugee families in Wichita, shedding light on the challenges they faced and what brought them to the United States.

The Ulrich opened “Where We Belong” on Aug. 24 as a collaboration between the museum and Center for Educational Technologies to Assist Refugee Learners, a research center led by Mythili Menon, associate professor, on Wichita State’s campus. 

The families interviewed for the exhibit came from Afghanistan, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Ukraine and Venezuela. All were forcibly displaced from their homes due to war, economic insecurities and other violent conflict. 

“Even though we have the language barrier, all these stories are so powerful … and moving because they’ve never had the opportunity to tell these stories before,” Menon said. “No one has (ever) sat with them and asked ‘tell your story in your language,’ so there were a lot of tears.” 

The Center for Educational Technologies to Assist Refugee Learners (CETARL) primarily assists refugee and asylee students as they adapt to a new learning environment, through their project “Education for All.” Their goal is to create an environment through which the specific needs of refugee students are met. 

“What we are doing with Project Education for All is to create a bilingual digital game based learning platform … called Gorilla Bay,” Menon said. “We have four different modules in it … the solar system, the human body, habitats and ecosystems, and physics … based on middle school science curriculum.” 

A demo of Gorilla Bay is currently available in the exhibit, and it is playable in several different languages. 

“We wanted to give them a place to tell their stories in their own language, give them a voice because a lot of their voice has been silenced for a number of years,” Menon said. “We don’t hear about the socio-cultural aspects of the community; we don’t hear about the festivals in the community … we thought a museum was the best space for that to have the greater Wichita public interact with them (the families).”

“Where We Belong” will be open in the Ulrich until Dec. 7.

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About the Contributors
Maleah Evans
Maleah Evans, Reporter
Maleah Evans is a second-year reporter for The Sunflower. They previously worked as a copy editor. Evans is a sophomore, majoring in history with a minor in anthropology. They plan to pursue a career as a museum curator.
Salsabila Attaria
Salsabila Attaria, Arts and Culture Editor
Salsabila Attaria is the arts and culture editor for The Sunflower. Attaria is a health science major.  She previously worked as a reporter and assistant news editor. She uses she/her pronouns.

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