Fences & Neighbors: New Hampshire’s Immigration Stories

The New Hampshire Humanities Council (NHHC) is a private non-profit organization that strengthens New Hampshire by providing free public humanities programs in its communities. The NHHC awards grants and develops and sponsors free public programs such as book discussions, workshops, seminars, and conferences led by scholars in literature, history, languages, ethics, philosophy, comparative religion and culture, and the interpretation of the arts.

"

Civic reflection discussions help us develop a richer, more adequate vocabulary for communicating with one another... name the tensions without feeling judged... come to the table as equals... practice unselfish listening... and articulate meaningful questions that emerge from what we do.

"

--Kathy Smith

New Hampshire Humanities Council

"

I will take away the idea that life... is extremely complex. Every side has important points to make and it is important to listen to one another... Being American doesn't just mean being born here.

"

--Discussion Participant

New Hampshire Humanities Council Conversation Series

Audience Focus

Residents of New Hampshire, with a special focus on civic leaders (foreign-born newcomers, established immigrants, and native-born); NH professionals whose work brings them into close contact with immigrants and refugees; and youth (AmeriCorps members, VISTA volunteers, high school students).

Goals

  1. Increase understanding of immigration history in New Hampshire, of current laws and issues, and of the stories and experiences of immigrants and refugees, both new and settled
  2. Multiply opportunities for reflection and productive dialogue among youth, teachers, service providers, legislators and others wrestling with immigration issues
  3. Break down language and culture barriers for those integrating into new communities as well as those in "receiving" communities
Dialogue participants talk across difference

Project Description

The Center for Civic Reflection partnered with the New Hampshire Humanities Council (NHHC) on its Fences & Neighbors initiative on immigration, which was funded by a $225,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The three-year statewide project, which ran from the fall of 2009 through the spring of 2012, examined immigration to New Hampshire through a wide variety of formats, including oral histories, literacy programs, a documentary film, an original play, and civic reflection dialogue programs. In the summer of 2009, the NHHC sponsored a customized CCR facilitation training for its diverse group of facilitators, who included participants from Africa, India and the Middle East and were from a broad range of work backgrounds—including members of the clergy, state legislators, high school teachers, and law enforcement. These facilitators then led community conversations at sites throughout New Hampshire.

Over the course of this project, the New Hampshire Humanities Council produced, supported or conducted 8 six-session civic reflection discussion series -- 48 conversations total -- and engaged hundreds of people throughout the state.

Impact

  1. 100% of facilitators trained by CCR to lead dialogues throughout the state felt that they had improved their facilitation skills.
  2. 95% of trained facilitators felt that they had deepened their understanding of civic reflection "to a great extent."
  3. 95% of trained facilitators strongly agreed that they had been introduced to "valuable new ideas and colleagues for doing civic reflection."

Tags

immigrationnew hampshirenehpublic programscivic and community leadersyouth

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