This intergenerational photo series showcases the ethnic diversity in North Hill, Akron’s International District. Photographs were displayed in a large scale installation at ethnic institutions and businesses scattered throughout the neighborhood. Trolly tours were organized to visit the portraits and help simulate engagement in the international district.
My mother immigrated to Ohio from Austria in 1970, so my childhood was steeped in the stories of her experiences as a newcomer to this place and nostalgia about the mountains of Austria. My mother and her friends co-founded Families for World Understanding (The Experiment in International Living). We hosted international students in our home which helped me see how people from cultures and societies very different from our own are, nonetheless, the same as us in terms of our most basic human needs. I am aware that immigrants and refugees are not always embraced with open arms by some segments of the population, but it’s easy to forget that almost all of us are descended from immigrants. My hope is that these portraits will help Akronites to see that these are people who come from loving families, who are working hard to make a better life for their children and grandchildren, just as our ancestors did for us when they made their journeys to America.
This project was made possible through the generous support of the North Akron Community Development Corporation with funding from the Knight Foundation.