Different Roots, Common Dreams
From the Introduction by NH Governor Maggie Hassan:Through its pictures and stories, Different Roots, Common Dreams demonstrates how the individuals and families who help constitute this remarkable diversity enrich the fabric of our society…. Inclusiveness and diversity are an integral part of our stories as Granite Staters, strengthening our families, our communities, and our state.
From the Foreword by photographer, John Isaac:
I first met Becky Field in Maine 2012.… Even though she was relatively new to the photography field, she was a natural and turned out to be one of the best students I’ve ever taught. …
It is sad to note that the refugee and immigrant situation has not improved much in all these years.…The number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide has exceeded 50 million people for the first time since World War II….Becky’s photo project documenting the immigrants in her home state is particularly relevant. It’s by starting changes in our own communities that will eventually reverberate to a bigger global picture. Maybe that’s the only way things will change.
From three of six “Journey Stories” by NH immigrants:
Bhutan: At midnight one night when I was 11, soldiers…told us to leave everything and get out of the house. They had guns; we had no choice. When we were all outside, they burned down our house while we watched. The same night, empty-handed and afraid, my parents, siblings and I walked 45 miles to neighboring India. When we arrived, we were loaded onto a truck with other refugees and driven to Nepal.…I did not waste time in the camps. I continued my education, eventually earning a bachelor degree in Physics from the University of North Bengal in India.…Finally I am earning a good life [in New Hampshire] for my family. I have the strong hope that I will not have to flee again.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: [After being accepted at a Canadian college,] I joined a mission trip to Los Angeles, hoping that I could get to the Canadian college through the United States. That didn’t work because I still needed paperwork from the Congolese government. I was stuck – I couldn’t go back to the violent conditions in the Congo; I couldn’t get to Canada to study; and I had only a tourist visa in the U.S.…My only option was to apply for asylum because it was unsafe for me to go home….When I first came here, there were only seven Congolese people in Manchester, but they welcomed me. Now there are many, and more coming because of the continued killing in the Congo.…Today I am a voice for others in the African community.
Somalia: Education was very important in my family, but we had to pay money just to come and go from the [refugee] camp, as well as pay for education after primary school….We were so pleased to be coming to the U.S. that the state didn’t matter. After finding how cold it is in New Hampshire, perhaps we should have gone to Arizona!…I want my children (now three sons and a daughter) to know our Somali culture, to learn the Somali language, and to hold onto our Muslim beliefs. At the same time, I want my children to get a good education. I am working hard to save money for four college tuitions. This is a great country and I am glad that my family has had the opportunity to come here.
Suggested Interview Questions
Q: Why did you start this project?
A: This photography project started as a result of an academic need and an act of hate. In 2011, I enrolled in the Photography Certificate Program at the NH Institute of Art. I needed a “body of work” to submit as a final project. A the same time there were four cases of hateful graffiti scrawled on refugee homes in Concord. I decided then to use my photography to show that cultural, ethnic and religious diversity in our communities should be celebrated and can add to the quality of life for all.
Q: How did you connect with the families?
A: A friend suggested I contact Honore Murenzi, Executive Director of New American Africans in Concord. He connected me with a few others, and each of them put me in touch with more families. The word spread within the immigrant communities. I continue to hear from new immigrant contacts interested in the project and eager for photographs. So, the connections are still growing.
Q: Why publish this book?
A: As the project developed, I realized that I was having unusual, even unique, opportunities to experience the personal lives, public ceremonies, and family events within the immigrant communities. It was not uncommon for me to be the only American-born person in the middle of a joyful party or sacred service. I saw the determination and dedication of the families to build a better life for themselves and their children. I wanted to share this with others, especially because of ongoing debate and public dialog about immigrant and refugee issues.
Q: Did the immigrants agree to be photographed?
A: I quickly found that people were not only accepting of me and my camera, but eager to show me their lives, photograph their traditions, and document their stories. It was very important to me that individuals feel comfortable with me photographing them and understand the uses for the photos. I had people sign a release that explained my uses for the photos. I was careful not to include anyone who did not want photographs taken.
Q: Who is the audience for this book?
A: There are several audiences. I hope the photographs will be appreciated by other photographic artists. In addition, I hope the American-born community will see in these photos evidence of the beauty, resilience and hard work within immigrant communities. I also hope the book will stimulate discussions among students, community groups and government leaders on important issues of immigration and inclusion in our state.
Q: What are your plans after this book?
A: The photography project will continue – I plan to visit other parts of New Hampshire to include more cultural groups among our newly arrived immigrant neighbors. Also, I have in mind a couple of other books from this project to work on.
NH Immigration Facts
- New Hampshire currently has 75,000 foreign-born residents (6% of NH population vs 13% for American population)
- Without foreign immigration, New Hampshire would have net population loss over past 5 years
- NH foreign-born residents are generally highly educated. Two-thirds (62%) of NH foreign-born population is enrolled in college vs less than one-third (28%) for native-born NH residents
- NH foreign-born residents come from: 34% Asia; 25%, Europe; 21% Latin America; 14% Canada; 6% Africa
- NH foreign-born residents live in: 10% Manchester City; 9% Greater Nashua; 5% outer Manchester; 4% Seacoast Region; 4% Salem/Rockingham
- NH residents who are poor or on public assistance: 8% foreign-born; 92% native-born
Reference: Delay, Dennis, and Daniel Barrick. May 2015. Policy Notes: An overview of New Hampshire’s foreign-born population. New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies. Concord, NH (copies: www.NHpolicy.org)
- The six countries that have been the source of the most of NH’s refugees in the last five years are: Bhutan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Myanmar (Burma), Somalia, and Sudan.
- From 2008 to 2014, on average 474 refugees have come to New Hampshire each year.
- Since 2008, the most refugees coming to New Hampshire have been from Bhutan.
- In the last seven years, the largest percentage (48%) of refugees have settled in Manchester, but since 2012, more refugees have resettled in Concord than Manchester.
MULTICULTURAL CELEBRATION FOR PHOTO BOOK ABOUT NEW HAMPSHIRE’S IMMIGRANTS
Governor Hassan Joins in Celebrating the Release of Book of Photos and Essays on Cultural Diversity
“In the pages of this book, our state’s vibrant ethnic, cultural and religious diversity comes to life.” New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan
Concord, NH – SEPTEMBER 22, 2015 – On Thursday afternoon, September 17, Governor Maggie Hassan joined an overflowing crowd at the mansion at the Kimball Jenkins School of Art in Concord to celebrate the publication of a photography book by Becky Field, entitled Different Roots, Common Dreams: New Hampshire’s Cultural Diversity.
The Governor praised Field’s photography for illustrating the cultural diversity that adds to the social and economic fabric of New Hampshire. In the introduction, the Governor wrote, “Through it’s pictures and stories, Different Roots, Common Dreams demonstrates how the individuals and families who help constitute this remarkable diversity enrich the fabric of our society.”
Field has been photographing New Hampshire’s immigrant and refugee families since 2012. This book is an outcome of her ongoing project to illustrate and honor the lives of our new American neighbors.
“This is the first time that New Hampshire’s immigrants have been so extensively photographed,” said Field, “adding to our historic records.”
Governor Hassan noted that Field’s book was used recently to illustrate the state’s cultural diversity during official negotiations with a company interested in coming here.
In endorsing the book, Jeff Rose, Commissioner for the NH Department of Resource and Economic Development, said, “Different Roots, Common Dreams provides a powerful portrayal of the energy and range of immigrant communities in New Hampshire, a state known for its culture of inclusion. We are a stronger state when we celebrate this diversity in our workforce, our businesses, and our communities.”
In addition to the Governor, speakers at the event included Field who talked about her project; Janeth Orozco Sanchez, state coordinator for Welcoming NH; and Tika Acharya, Executive Director of the Bhutanese Community of New Hampshire.
Thursday’s celebration included appetizers representing several cultures donated by immigrant and beautifully arranged by an Iraqi caterer from Manchester. Nepali musicians, now residents of Concord, provided live music on tabla and harmonium. Books were available for purchase at the event with help from Gibson’s Bookstore; Field was available to sign copies.
An exhibit of about 25 photographs from the book were on display at the Kimball Jenkins School of Art. The exhibit will now move to the Portsmouth Public Library for the month of October.
In addition to her photographs, Field’s book includes an introduction by Governor Hassan, a foreword by renowned photographer, John Isaac, and six “journey stories” by refugees about their experiences of resettling in the Granite State.
Becky Field has a certificate in photography from the New Hampshire Institute of Art. She has also studied at Maine Media Workshops, Photographic Resource Center (MA), and Center for Photography at Woodstock (NY). She also holds a doctorate in wildlife ecology and lives in Concord, NH.
High-resolution scans are available upon request. Scanning from the book or lifting images from the mechanical file are strictly prohibited. With permission, a mandatory credit line should read: “ From: Different Roots, Common Dreams: New Hampshire’s Cultural Diversity, by Becky Field, Peter E. Randall Publisher, 2015. ©FieldWork Photos”
Fine Art Photography / New Hampshire/ Immigration / Refugee
Hardcover, $35.00 US , 10×9 inches, 128 pages, 133 four-color photographs and narrative essays
Published by Peter E. Randall Publishers ~ Distributed by Enfield Distribution – ISBN: 978-1-937721-24-4
Book website: www.differentrootsnh.com
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VIDEO – WMUR, NH Chronicle
November 19, 2015
September 23, 2015
Center for the Book, New Hampshire State Library
Book of the Week 9/16/15
New Hampshire Magazine