On Saturday, March 18th
and Sunday, March 19th
at 7 p.m. in the Cleveland State University student center ballroom, 2121 Euclid Ave., SC 319, the local nonprofit Literary Cleveland
will present Crossing Borders: Immigrant Narratives
. This event is free and open to the public and includes a reception after each show, but registration is encouraged
Cosponsored by Case Western Reserve's Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities
and CSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
, the two 90-minute presentations will feature staged readings of short essays, fiction and poems performed by a set of professional actors assembled by director Marc Moritz. The stories depict the emotional journey of crossing borders, both literal and metaphorical, and what it means to be both an immigrant and an American.
In “Crutches,” Jill Sell writes about her Czech ancestors’ uncertain passage through Ellis Island. “Food and Family,” a piece by Hathaway Brown student Crystal Zhao, describes a second-generation Chinese immigrant bonding with her mother over stories of childhood rebellion. The poem “Genesis” by Daniel Gray-Kontar addresses the journey of African-Americans from the south to cities such as Cleveland during the Great Migration.
Stories focusing on more recent immigration experiences include “Struggling to Survive,” in which Syrian immigrant Bayan Aljbawi writes about leaving her troubled homeland for the United States, an experience she describes as “escaping from one suffering to another: new culture, new country and different language.” In “American Promise,” award-winning novelist and Case professor Thrity Umrigar – who immigrated from India more than 30 years ago – confronts the current political climate and asks if the United States “will be a country that is as small and narrow as its fears” or “as large and glorious as its dreams, as splendid as the hopes of millions of its citizens, immigrant and native born … ?”
"Immigrant Narratives" is part of the second annual Cleveland Humanities Festival (CHF
), which runs from March 15 through mid-May.
Per event literature: "The theme for 2017 is 'Immigration.' The CHF will utilize the resources of Cleveland’s leading intellectual institutions to explore the challenges and opportunities caused by the movement of people. Exile, immigration, deportation, migration — in the history of every nation, demographic shifts have been a part of the fabric of civic and cultural life. Nowhere is this more true than in the life of our own country. The forced deportations of the Middle Passage, the wholesale immigration of eastern Europeans in the nineteenth century, the recent relocation of refugees from Middle Eastern conflict, are only a few of the movements that have left their mark on American communities. The CHF will explore from a humanistic perspective the impact of immigration across time and within our own time through a series of coordinated events, including lecture, exhibits, theatrical performances, academic symposia, tours, and films."
This year's festival includes more than three dozen eclectic and provocative programs such as An Irish-Appalachian Journey
(musical performance), a film screening and discussion of From Refugee to Neighbor
, a field trip to Cleveland's ethnic markets
and Immigrants in Ohio
, a discussion about how newcomers enhance communities. That short list is a scant sampling of the extensive offerings, a full list of which is available here
Some activities require ticket purchase and registration. Event venues are at points across the region.