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Creative Refugee Crisis

The Refugee Orchestra Project’s first film looks through the lens of 15 refugees to shatter stereotypes


By Jessica Goodfellow, Media Reporter

September 24, 2017 | 3 min read

The Refugee Orchestra Project has collaborated with members of Papel & Caneta, a nonprofit creative collective, to launch a collection of films that look to address misconceptions about refugees in order to show the value each person brings to society.

The Project has also created posters highlighting some of the key misconceptions about refugees

The Project has also created posters highlighting some of the key misconceptions about refugees

The campaign film explores topics including the jobs refugees get, the hardship they have come from and discrimination they face in the countries they immigrate to.

Lidiya Yankovskaya, founder and opera conductor of The Refugee Orchestra Project, explains: “When people hear the word ‘refugee’, they have an image in their heads of people on a boat, or in a camp. These kind of preconceptions can cloud the fact that refugees are not only people like you and me; they can, and do, contribute enormous cultural value.”

Yankovskaya is herself a refugee who arrived in the US from Russia at the age of nine following the economic collapse in 1995. She founded The Refugee Orchestra Project in in early 2016 in response to xenophobia she felt was spreading in the US in the wake of the Syrian refugee crisis.

The Project seeks to help refugees through donations and show refugees as vital members of healthy American communities.

This theme underlines the Project’s film, which follows the stories of 15 refugees to America and their experiences of the country, juxtaposed against statements often attributed to refugees. The work was filmed over the course of a week in New York City.

The film, 'Refugees Are Us' includes the story of a refugee who was also the first female engineer hired by Verizon, as it looks to demonstrate the tangible contribution refugees make to US society. According to CNBC, immigrants, or their children, have founded 40% of America’s Fortune 500 Companies.

The Project has also created posters highlighting some of the key misconceptions about refugees.

“We’re surrounded by evidence of this cultural contribution every day,” says Yankovskaya. “For example, much of the music we know and love, including ‘God Bless America’, was written by refugees.”

Aaron Duffy, creative director and founder of SpecialGuest, said: "Working with Lidiya and Tarek Turkey – Iraqi filmmaker – as part of the creative team makes all the difference. Rather than approaching the problem from the outside looking in, we gain everything from the raw emotion of real experience. They are not the client. They are true collaborators."

The Refugee Orchestra Project : advert-top-1 by Papel & Caneta & SpecialGuest

By The Refugee Orchestra Project

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