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BHSU professors tell their immigration stories in new Matthews Opera House exhibit

   
 Dr. Ahrar Ahmad
 Dr. Abigail Domagall
   
 Dr. Parthasarathi Nag
 Micheline Nelson
Four Black Hills State University professors along with several other Spearfish residents will share their stories of immigration to the United States through an exhibit at the Matthews Opera House Gallery titled “Over Land & Sea: Immigration Stories of Spearfish.”

The opening reception for the exhibit is Friday, Feb. 7 from 5-7 p.m. in the Matthews Opera House Gallery. The exhibit will be up through Feb. 22.

The immigration stories are part of the Opera House’s Big Read program. Spearfish was one of 77 communities throughout the nation selected to participate in the nationwide literature program sponsored by the National Endowment of the Arts and designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment. The community-wide celebration kicked off last fall with the introduction of the book “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri. Since then the Opera House, BHSU and the Spearfish community have organized a variety of events focusing on the author, the novel and its various themes including immigration.

“ ‘The Namesake’ gives readers a chance to see some of the day-to-day choices, struggles, joys, perspectives, hopes, and questions of a couple who were raised in a different country, as they embrace a new nation and hold on to their ties to their homeland,” according to Kaija Swisher, BHSU instructor and interim director of the University’s Writing Center. Swisher interviewed the 11 individuals who came to the Black Hills from nine different countries and wrote the stories that will be exhibited in the Opera Gallery. The written interviews will be displayed next to a framed photograph of each person.

BHSU professors featured are: Dr. Ahrar Ahmad, professor of political science, from Bangladesh; Dr. Abigail Domagall, assistant professor of geology, from England; Dr. Parthasarathi Nag, associate professor of mathematics, from India; and Micheline Nelson, director of field experiences and assistant professor of math/science education, from Belgium. Other Spearfish residents featured include: Dago Rodriguez of Mexico; Edith Miles and Petra Hansen of Germany; Jonna Henwood and Jytte Bowers of Denmark; Florence Tan of China; and Scott Gillis of Canada.

“In this exhibit, you will have the chance to read about immigrant stories close to home in Spearfish,” Swisher says in her introduction into the exhibit. “While they are only a brief glimpse into the journey of each of the individuals highlighted, the stories share many themes – one of the most important being that we live in a nation rich with diverse heritage.”

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