Snapshot project: omaha
ABOUT THE PROJECT
During the Spring of 2018, 12 remarkable students who are refugees from Burma, Sudan, and Somalia learned to tell their stories through 100cameras Snapshot Omaha in Nebraska, USA. In partnership with Lutheran Family Services (LFS) and taught by local teachers Alex Matze, Maranda Loughlin , and LFS Outreach Specialist Brittany Steigner, these students are all participants in Central High School's Thrive club, a refugee student leadership club where students come from countries including Burma, Sudan, Bhutan, Somalia, Afghanistan, Syria, and the Congo are encouraged to become leaders in their community and to pursue higher education.
Often times we hear stories of Refugees displaced from their homes, and forced to live in camps or neighboring countries. If we are fortunate enough, we might see a glimpse of the life of a refugee who comes to the United States and rises about their circumstances in the land of opportunity. But, what about the in-between? What about the children of refugees, who were too young to remember their home, or who were born and raised in refugee camps? What about those who have seen much trauma at too young of an age? These youth need a place to tell their story. They need someone to listen, to see their point of view and the world through their lens. They need their community to recognize that they are American, yet also Sudanese or Somali, or Karen. That they are the product of parents who left everything behind to give them the opportunity to succeed.
Their stories are important and need sharing.
The students involved in this project were either born in refugee camps or left home at an early age. Some are brand new to Omaha learning to adapt to this new and different culture. Others were born here and longing to hold onto the traditions of their refugee families. Through the Snapshot Project, students were able to tell their stories. They gave others the opportunities to see into the lives of young refugee students living in Nebraska, their new home.
100% of proceeds from the students' photo sales will go directly back to their community. Based on the current needs of the organization, the proceeds raised will help LFS fund student educational and arts outreach programming in the future such as scholarships for materials, workshops, and other arts opportunities in the community.
ABOUT THE SNAPSHOT PROJECT LEADERS
About Co-Leader Brittany Steigner:
With a degree in Dance and a heart for international communities, Brittany has always been intrigued by how she could combine these passions. When learning that her husband, who joined the military, would be stationed in Omaha NE she didn’t know what to think. Little did she know that she were ironically moving to one of the largest refugee populated cities in the US, where in one office she could hear 34 different languages being spoken. It was hard to imagine that she would soon be sitting in a home of 7 women from Afghanistan eating samosas and listening to stories of a young girl’s attempt to walk to school in a war torn city, a fearless woman’s struggle to become the first female parliament member from her region, or the isolated new mom’s desire to now learn speak English and to drive. These experiences are just a few of many that now make up her experience of Omaha, NE. These humans and their past lives enrich her community and push her to explore a new world view. Now, in her position of Outreach Specialist she gets the privilege to explore how the arts can help tell these stories. She has the honor to tell her clients that their stories are powerful and so is the artform that they choose to use to express their thoughts, feelings, pain, and triumphs.
About Co-Leader Alex Matzke:
Born in Omaha in 1985, Nebraska has always been home more or less for Alex. In 2016, after completing an MFA in photography at Virginia Commonwealth University, she moved to Omaha to help care for her aging grandparents. During her first week back in Omaha, she met a new friend Kam, who came from Sudan by way of a refugee camp in Malaysia. It was his first week in town, too. Global issues like the refugee crisis exist in my own hometown, but Kam’s knowledge and experiences make the depth of his perspective on these issues so valuable. Creating and supporting platforms for friends like Kam to share their perspective is my motivation. With a donated camera, Kam made images of refugee owned businesses to highlight their contributions to our community. Community sponsored events like the New American Arts Festival help create space for his photos to live outside of the camera. The opportunity to continue this work with the support of 100cameras and the Snapshot Project platform is her dream job (<-- in her own words). She believes in the power of giving young people the tools and community support to share their vision in order to help empower them as community members and as engaged leaders.
Snapshot Project Omaha was powered by our friends at ONA.
STUDENT IMAGE GALLERY
Follow us on social media to see images from the field as captured by Brittany, Alex, and the student photographers.