Global Bexley: “Where are you from? I’m from here.”

by Nikki Freeman

On February 16, the Global Mobility Project’s first community event, “Global Bexley: Making Home in Ohio” took place at the Bexley Public Library. OSU History professor Theodora Dragostinova facilitated a lively conversation among seven Bexley community members who all came from different parts of the world such as Great Britain, Uruguay, Iran, and the former Soviet Union.

Dr. Dragostinova, being from Bulgaria herself, opened the discussion with two major questions that guided the night’s conversation: How did you leave your home? And how did you decide to make a new home in Bexley? Each moved for different reasons which ranged from accepting new and exciting work opportunities to escaping political and religious persecution.

Making a new home in Bexley was not easy for everyone, and the panelists shared personal anecdotes about the trials and tribulations of everyday life. One woman (a Jew from the former Soviet Union) had to learn English for the first time as an adult so took night classes at a local high school. Another woman (a follower of the Bahá’í Faith from Iran) shared a funny story about trying to make an “American friendly” spaghetti dish when her son had a friend over for dinner.  These individual stories highlighted the personal struggle of adjusting to a new community.

Although the panel tried to avoid talking about politics, President Trump’s recent executive order on immigration was obviously on everyone’s mind.

I believe that conversations like this one are incredibly important in today’s political climate. We must bring neighbors face-to-face with each other and encourage people to share their experiences thereby illuminating how international diversity enriches both the local and national communities.

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