Exploring Immigration

Jessica Hester interviewing Klezmatics member at WRVO

On stage and airwaves, SUNY Oswego hosted a series of programs in 2010 exploring the experiences of those who leave their native country and culture for another, by choice or otherwise.

As part of Artswego's yearlong theme "Arts, Identity and Diaspora," four artists and ensembles performed, visited classrooms, gave radio interviews and interacted with students, faculty and community members.

They were American poet Li-Young Lee, klezmer interpreters The Klezmatics, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Katja Esson and Mexican-American choreographer Alex Escalante.

“For millions of people who are driven from one culture to another, there is a tension between longing for home and adapting to the new environment," said Mary Avrakotos, Artswego coordinator. "These exceptional artists help us understand that dynamic through the distinctly different lenses of poetry, music, film and dance.”

A year beforehand, Oswego professors met the artists and considered ways to connect them with their own teaching plans for 2010.

A group of faculty found a way to take the project far beyond the classroom. With a small grant from the New York Council for the Humanities, they organized a series of radio interviews with the visiting artists, Central New York immigrants and immigration experts. The series aired in segments on WRVO-FM, the campus-based National Public Radio affiliate with an audience approaching 100,000 on air and many more online.

Photo: Jessica Hester of the theatre faculty interviews Frank London of the musical group The Klezmatics.

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