Buffalo in Parts (of 3)
01. Refugees and Immigrants
My assignment at the Partnership for the Public Good (PPG) this summer closely intertwines my interests in cross-cultural work and the arts. As a High Road Fellow, my projects have dealt with language access for immigrants and refugees in Buffalo and with PPG’s annual fundraiser, Shakespearean Idol. My research on the various refugee groups has made me question my understanding of race, identity, and language: how do you grapple with the pressures of learning a new language and culture when coupled with your past at home or the refugee camps?
Much of my work recalls the skills and knowledge I learned from my advanced writing seminar, Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Work, which encouraged me to think about culture and its impact on people and organizations. Each individual experience is alarmingly different, and especially with language access, it is increasingly important to tailor the programs and services to these different occurrences. It means recording and assessing the stories of people who have arrived in Buffalo, who have come in contact with resettlement agencies, and who have to become vital members of the community.
What never fails to amaze me is the amount of compassion that the Buffalo community has for its city and for its citizens. I have yet to see another locality that has so much change stemming from its very people. Everything is intimately connected: my work on language access relates to the changing landscape of Buffalo, which in turn, points to the Buffalo Billion and the increasing focus on the arts.
For example, the Arts Integration Committee is a coalition of artists and advocates who come together to advance the impact of the arts in Buffalo. What strikes me is the amount of support that these communities have for budding artists – the networks, the events, and the encouragement of youth, particularly. There are growing numbers of spaces for individuals to not only cultivate their skills, but to also discuss the importance of arts in a city.
03. Arts and Culture
I love every moment surrounded by the arts and cultural organizations in Buffalo. Last Saturday, I volunteered at the City of Night. Thursday, I met with Marcus Wise, fine arts photographer and owner of 464 Gallery. Saturday was spent volunteering for the Sincerely Yours exhibit at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. There is so much that Buffalo has to offer that it has been difficult absorbing everything. There seems to be a constant lack of time for me to see all the exhibits and galleries around the city.
Buffalo has made me realize how much I love the arts – after graduation, I am really interested in working for an arts organization before pursuing my PhD in English literature. It has been an incredible experience. I always knew I loved the arts, but did not realize how fulfilled and enriched I feel. Everyday challenges me to look deeper, to change my perspective, to reflect on my desires and dreams.