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Saturday, June 23 Entertainment

Fairfield Museum explores immigration to Greater Bridgeport

The story of America is built upon the often “poignant and fascinating” stories of refugees and immigrants.

Whether fleeing from persecution or in search of a better life, folks have for centuries left their native countries to relocate here.

“The issue is not new,” Fairfield Museum’s Executive Director Mike Jehle said. While investigating the topic, it is not long before we realize, “These people are us.

“Central to our mission is to present a major topic each year — relevant and topical — in which we can engage the community in an open forum so that we can all learn a bit more about complex issues that define our time,” Jehle said in a recent telephone chat. Last year’s topic was climate change.

This year, the Fairfield Museum and History Center presents a “new and timely” exhibit and numerous special events that explore “An American Story: Finding Home in Fairfield County,” which runs through July 23. The show also observes the 100th anniversary of the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants founded in 1918.

“An American Story” highlights the experiences of eight individuals from Cambodia, Congo, Cuba, Hungary, India, Rwanda and Syria, who have built new lives in Fairfield County” over recent decades. “Seeking safety and opportunity here, refugees and immigrants from around the world have added to the fabric of our communities,” the exhibition points out. Biographical narratives were written by Lynne Penczer and the large-scale portraits were created by Caren Winnall.

More Information

Fairfield Museum, 370 Beach Road. Through July 23. Daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m. $5; $3 seniors, students (6-22); 5 and younger, free. 203-259-1598, Fairfieldhistory.org

powerful biographical narratives, authored by Lynne Penczer, and the large-scale portraits, taken by Caren Winnall,

The nonprofit museum “is a community center where people come together to learn from each other ... to explore the historic context of current events and discuss ways we can work together for collective solutions to some of the challenges we face,” he said.

To that end, Jehle said the museum will host special events designed to appeal to various age groups.

Programs

As described by the museum:

Museum After Dark: Thursday, March 15, from 6 to 8 p.m. “Women Rebuilding” will be the topic. Marco Werman, senior producer of Public Radio International’s “The World,” will moderate a discussion about women’s empowerment projects in Connecticut that are giving immigrant women opportunities.

Film Series: Wednesday, March 28, at 12:30 p.m. The film, “Searching for Wordin Avenue,” which commemorates the Hungarian community in Bridgeport and the immigrant experience, will be shown.

For Families: Monday, April 9, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. “Family Focus: Architecture Around the World.” Using found objects and recycled materials, families can design and build a model structure. Free.

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Workshop: Wednesday, April 11, 10 a.m. to noon, for ages 6-10. “Adventures Around the World.” Discover places around the world in the “An American Story” exhibit and create your own adventure picture book. $20. Register online.

Storytime for Children: Wednesday, April 11, 10 to 10:30 a.m. “Hope and Home.” Discover the people who came to this country and the traditions they brought with them. Free.

Film Series: Sunday, April 15, at 4 p.m. “Rebuilding Hope” will be shown. Filmmaker Jen Marlowe will speak about the movie, which traces the journey of the Southern Sudanese “Lost Boys,” who fled Sudan as children in 1987.

Forum: Thursday, April 19, from 6 to 8 p.m. “Sanctuary: Interfaith Forum on Refugees” will highlight the different ways faith-based communities are offering diverse approaches to meet the needs of refugees and immigrants.

Community Day: Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Performances, stories and hands-on activities for children. Short documentaries, for ages 10 and older, will be shown, including “Shirin’s Dream” and “Magic Shoes,” curated by Northwest Film Forum. Free.

pasboros@ctpost.com; Twitter: @PhyllisASBoros

Phyllis A.S. Boros|Senior Arts/Entertainment Writer

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