On August 24, 2018 USCRI Albany’s Services to Older Refugees Program (SORP) visited the New York State museum for a guided walkthrough of select exhibits. The theme of the trip was “We Are All Immigrants” and the SORP participants were taught about the state’s history stretching from pre-colonial times (which included exhibits such as “Native Peoples”) to the increased periods of immigration in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (“New York Metropolis” and “Ellis Island” exhibits). Exhibits such as this emphasize that we all come from somewhere else if we search back far enough, and are ultimately all descendant of immigrants.
Exploration of this theme helped to frame the current situation that recent refugee arrivals find themselves in, before, during, and after their long journey to resettlement. Participants were helped to understand that although during certain dark periods of our history the United States has not always managed to live up to its highest values (as witnessed in the “Bitter Hope” exhibit) overall we remain a welcoming nation whose past, present and future is inextricably linked to welcoming new people and to weaving their cultures into our diverse national tapestry.