Words in Transit Panel with John Voci
Where: The Odyssey Bookshop
Contributors to the book Words in Transit, a collection of first-person narratives by immigrants to western New England, will present their stories of immigration in a panel discussion facilitated by John Voci, NEPR’s director of programming and a producer for the Words in Transit project. The project, which began as a radio and online initiative of New England Public Radio, seeks to bring the national conversation on immigration home to our community and to shift the discussion from an abstract debate about immigration policies to stories of individuals. The stories include powerful accounts of fleeing from bullets and crossing armed borders at night and of settling in a strange new land. Beth Reynolds contributed beautiful photographic portraits of the interviewees to accompany the twenty-eight stories collected in the book.
The presentation will be followed by a time for questions and discussion.
The Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts is home to immigrants and refugees from around the globe, and their presence revitalizes the region and redefines its culture. Their journeys have involved fear, uprootedness, and isolation as well as perseverance, creativity, and hope. Words in Transit collects the personal stories of nearly thirty people who have made this area their new home. These stories were recorded by New England Public Radio in collaboration with the Copeland Colloquium at Amherst College and produced by Tema Silk and Cathleen O'Keefe under the direction of John Voci.
Gathered together in a beautifully designed book that showcases Beth Reynolds's photographic portraits of each immigrant, these oral histories illuminate the many paths leading to the Pioneer Valley and demonstrate the shared experience among those seeking a new life in a foreign land.
Storytellers include a massage therapist from Ireland, a Fulbright scholar from Palestine, a health educator from Taiwan, a literature professor from Spain, and a yoga teacher from Romania. Other participants hail from far-flung places including Haiti, Jamaica, El Salvador, Cote d'Ivoire, the Dominican Republic, Bhutan, Laos, Syria, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Congo, Slovenia, Iraq, and Ukraine. Introduced by the renowned scholar of translation and global literature Ilan Stavans, these stories testify to the resilience, bravery, and hopefulness of western New England emigres. Proceeds from this book go to scholarships for immigrants at Holyoke Community College.