Connect with Your Community @ Joslyn
Gather at the Museum to celebrate Omaha's rich diversity while learning about issues facing the city's refugee population. Join us for several events - New American Exchange: Umoja Choir, New American Dish @ Café Durham, and World Refugee Day - see two special photography exhibits in the community gallery, and help us "fill the cupboard" at the International Center of the Heartland.pantry. Programs are offered FREE of charge and all are welcome to attend!


New American Exchange: Umoja Choir
Saturday, May 12, 11:30 am

Bring a picnic lunch, a blanket or lawn chair, and celebrate spring with an outdoor performance featuring the Umoja Choir! When Dieudonne Manirakiza and Eric Esron resettled in Omaha in 2010, they started the Burundian Choir as a creative outlet for children in their community. As more and more refugees from East Africa began settling in Omaha, they changed the name to Umoja Choir, which means "unity" in Swahili, a common language of many of these countries. Born out of a desire for connections and community and a way to channel energy and creativity for people of all ages, the Umoja Choir is in its eighth year and finding growing success, having performed a Tiny Desk Concert in Washington, D.C., as background vocals on a Mynabirds record, and a TED talk in 2017. The choir currently has a Go Fund Me campaign underway to support the recording of its first album.

New American Dish @ Café Durham
June 12-16, 11 am-2 pm

Joslyn welcomes Aisha Al Saleh as a culinary collaborator for the New American Dish project. Al Saleh was born in Syria where she worked as a chef but, due to political instability, was forced to leave her home country, making her way to Omaha with her family a year and a half ago. Al Saleh loves to cook and has started her own catering business in Omaha that specializes in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Staff from the Museum’s Café Durham will work alongside Al Saleh to feature a signature dish highlighting the flavors of her home country of Syria.  The week of World Refugee Day, plan to purchase this special meal offered in the Café, with ten percent of the dish's proceeds benefiting Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska.

Thanks to Abraham Catering for their continued partnership with this program.

Omaha World Refugee Day
Saturday, June 16, 10 am-2 pm

World Refugee Day honors and celebrates the courage, strength, and determination of women, men, and children who are forced to flee their homeland under threat of persecution, conflict, and violence. This FREE event will feature:
  • cultural music, dance, visual art, and fashion presentations
  • special guest speakers (see below)
  • a naturalization ceremony welcoming new American citizens (10 am, Witherspoon Concert Hall)
  • gallery viewing and hands-on art-making activities
  • an informative speakers series
  • and, for refugees only, a health fair.

REFUGEE VOICES Speaker Series:

  • Yazidis (Iraq) - Laila Khoudeida was raised in a refugee camp in Syria, after her family fled Iraq during Sadam Hussein's regime, then came to the U.S. in the 90s. A graduate of Wesleyan University, she became an activist after the Yazidis were targeted for genocide by ISIS in 2014. Khoudeida co-founded Yazda, a global Yazidi organization that helps Yazidi victims in the aftermath of the fall of Sinjar, Iraq. In 2015, the National Association of Social Workers named her Public Citizen of the Year. (11 am, Abbott Lecture Hall)
  • Democratic Republic of Congo - Jean Claude Ashimwe will talk about the increasing violence and human abuses along the eastern border of the DRC conflict, his journey to the U.S., and the experiences of the Congolese refugee community here in Omaha. Ashimwe worked as senior logistician at International Medical Corps in Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda until his family was forced to flee Uganda. In Nebraska since 2016, he works for Omaha Public Schools as bilingual (Swahili) liaison. (11 am, Omaha Steaks Conference Room)
  • Afghanistan - Feroz Mohmand rose from being a refugee within his home country of Afghanistan to become press coordinator for Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai. He was also a liaison officer between embassies, NATO, and the international media.Mohmand, his spouse, and their family became refugees after he uncovered a plot against American diplomats and military families. Today, military officers knowledgeable of this plot believe Mohmand's actions saved American lives. (12:10 pm, Omaha Steaks Conference Room)
  • South Sudan - Abeny Kucha will return, back by popular demand, to recount her family's experience of surviving seven years of civil war and genocide in South Sudan in a talk that is both heart-wrenching and hopeful. Kucha has published a book entitled Tears of a Mother and appeared on TEDxLincoln. (12:10 pm, Abbott Lecture Hall)
Hosted by Joslyn Art Museum and brought to you by the Omaha Refugee Task Force.

Community Exhibitions
June 5-30

What We Carried: Lincoln
See a storytelling project by Jim Lommasson, freelance photographer and author living in Portland, OR, and the Yazidi community of Lincoln, NE, home to the largest population of Yazidi peoples in the United States. This project highlights their immigration from Northern Iraq to the United States with a focus on the items brought with them on their journey. Each item was photographed individually and then written reflections by Yazidi participants were added directly to the printed work. A selection of photographs from the exhibition (originally on view, in its entirety, at the Nebraska History Museum), will be on view in Joslyn's community gallery (Memorial building, southwest lower level). Don't miss the opportunity to hear a talk by Laila Khoudeida, co-founder and director of women affairs at Yazidi Cultural Center in Lincoln, during World Refugee Day, on Saturday, June 16 at 11 am.

Special thanks to Jim Lommasson and the Nebraska History Museum for making this exhibition available at Joslyn.

This spring, Joslyn joins Lutheran Family Services to welcome the 100cameras project, a New York-based nonprofit that partners with local organizations around the world to offer storytelling and technical photography skills to kids, ages 10-18, who have had traumatic experiences. Students will tell stories from their past and present, and imagine their future, through the lens of a camera, culminating in a photography exhibition that will benefit them and Lutheran Family Services. During the month of April, Joslyn is the 100cameras workshop site for ten refugee students attending Central High School, led by local photographer Alex Matzke. In June, see the students' photographs on view in Joslyn's community gallery (Memorial Building, southwest lower level).

Fill the Cupboard!

When attending any of the programs listed above, please consider bringing these items for the International Center of the Heartland food pantry:

White, kidney, or pinto beans
Lentils, chickpeas
Jasmine or basmati rice
Canned fish
Italian style pastas
Baking powder
Baking yeast
Asian noodles
Vegetable oil
Tomato paste
Marinara sauce
Spices: curry powder, tumeric, beryani spice, chili, black pepper, thyme, cumin, cardamom, cloves, cilantro, garam masala, cinnamon      MORE DETAILS >