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MTSU Global Studies exhibit honors Midstate migrants’ diversity

MTSU’s Global Studies Program is encouraging the Middle Tennessee community to attend a unique multimedia exhibit in Murfreesboro honoring the cultural diversity in the region through stories of migration.

Organized as a class project of Global Studies at Middle Tennessee State University, the “Migration with Dignity in Middle Tennessee” exhibit is open now through Wednesday, April 27, at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County, 225 W. College St. in downtown Murfreesboro.

This photograph and brief bio of migrants Amir Cizmic and wife Tea are an example of the types of displaysthat will be in the "Migration with Dignity in Middle Tennessee" exhibit, set to be shown April 17-27 at the Heritage Center of Rutherford County in downtown Murfreesboro. (Submitted)

This photograph and brief bio of migrants Amir Cizmic and wife Tea are an example of the types of displaysthat will be in the “Migration with Dignity in Middle Tennessee” exhibit, set to be shown through April 27 at the Heritage Center of Rutherford County in downtown Murfreesboro. (Photos submitted)

Free and open to the public, the exhibit includes 17 individual testimonies of migrants and their families from different countries of origin who now all call Tennessee their home. Several pieces of student artwork from MTSU professor Sisavanh Houghton’s painting class, as well as video excerpts, are included in the exhibit.

The Heritage Center is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday.

Project sponsors include the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County, MTSU Department of Art-Painting, MTSU Experiential Learning Scholars Program, MTSU Global Studies, Nashville Public Library and Southern Organizing of Latino Educators.

Organizers said part of the impetus for the project was to create a different public conversation about the migration experience that recognizes the shared humanity of all Tennesseans as well as an interdependent past, present, and future.

This artwork from MTSU senior Micah Ramey will be on display April 17-27 at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County as part of “Migration with Dignity in Middle Tennessee” exhibit. (Submitted photo)

This artwork from MTSU senior Micah Ramey will be on display through April 27 at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County as part of “Migration with Dignity in Middle Tennessee” exhibit. 

Student project participants such as Ashley McFarland, a Spanish major and Italian/global studies minor, have learned the value of this project firsthand.

“I come from a small town near Chattanooga, Tennessee, and I never really thought much about migration, about how people feel,” McFarland said. “My participation in this process, however, has been a life-changing experience because I now think about what it is like to migrate and live here.”

Murfreesboro native Dalton Cantrell, an MTSU history major and global studies minor, echoed those sentiments.

“More than just a class project, Migration with Dignity fosters understanding about who we are and who we want to be as a community,” he said. “This project has encouraged people my age to actually step out of our comfort zones and view the world in a different way.”

For participant Mia Kozul, a global studies major and sociology minor, the project is very personal because of her family’s experience as refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Coming to the United States has opened doors for us that were completely closed in our home country. We are blessed to be here,” she said. “ I am happy that our project seeks to honor these experiences.”

For more information about the Migration with Dignity exhibit, contact MTSU student and project co-coordinator Sam Hulsey at samuelkhulsey@gmail.com or 615-587-8559 or MTSU faculty adviser Dr. Antonio Vásquez at antonio.vasquez@mtsu.edu.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

This artwork from MTSU senior Mary Alday will be on display at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County as part of “Migration with Dignity in Middle Tennessee” exhibit. (Submitted photo)

This artwork from MTSU senior Mary Alday will be on display at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County as part of “Migration with Dignity in Middle Tennessee” exhibit. 

This artwork from MTSU student Autumn Galloway will be on display at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County as part of “Migration with Dignity in Middle Tennessee” exhibit. (Submitted photo)

This artwork from MTSU student Autumn Galloway will be on display at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County as part of “Migration with Dignity in Middle Tennessee” exhibit. 

This artwork from MTSU junior Alena Mehic will be on display at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County as part of “Migration with Dignity in Middle Tennessee” exhibit. (Submitted photo)

This artwork from MTSU junior Alena Mehic will be on display at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County as part of “Migration with Dignity in Middle Tennessee” exhibit. 

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