Less than 50 years ago, only one in every 100 people living in Virginia had been born outside the United States. In 2012, the figure was one in nine. Recent estimates place the number of foreign-born Virginians at just under one million, and nearly half of these new residents are between the ages of 25 and 44.
The Library of Virginia, working with Virginia Humanities, is hosting an exhibition featuring video-recorded conversations with immigrants and refugees from more than 30 countries. Some came to this country seeking new opportunity, others as refugees fleeing war and hardship. Virginia’s Secretary of Education, Atif Qarni, is among the interviewees, who also include a teacher, professional photographer, former U.S. Marine and I.T Professional, doctor, missionaries, and folklorists.
The New Virginians exhibition explores themes such as opportunity, family, service, faith, and gratitude- and features artifacts related to the interviewees’ personal journeys. A traveling version of the exhibition (minus the artifacts) is offered to communities and public libraries in Virginia. Localities are encouraged to add programming when hosting the exhibit. The interviews, with additional videos not shown in the exhibition, are available for viewing on the Virginia Humanities and Library of Virginia websites. New Virginians is a Legacy Project of the 2019 Commemoration.
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American Evolution events and programs include a series of extraordinary projects ranging from special exhibitions, documentary film, scholarly works, interpretive centers, and digital applications to reinforce 1619 history, commemoration themes and Virginia’s role in the creation of the United States and its ongoing leadership in education, tourism, and economic development