Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Refugees share stories of courage during African Extravaganza

The African Community Center of Denver hosts the 5th annual African Extravaganza at the University of Denver beginning Feb. 20 to celebrate African heritage and bring attention to the African refugees in Denver.

“It’s a great opportunity for the African community in the Denver-metro area to give back to local community,” says Jennifer Kroeck Gueddiche, director of the African Community Center.

The Extravaganza kicks off with a photo exhibit featuring the faces of refugees on Feb. 20 at 5:30 p.m. outside Davis Auditorium in Sturm Hall. Retired teacher Barbara Vogel (BA education ’73) traveled to Sudan to take the photographs.

“I’m showcasing a decade worth of work,” Vogel says. “I’ve documented the plight of the Southern Sudanese and Darfur. Much of what I photograph cannot be photographed again — some of the people I photographed were dying.”

Vogel says when people see the exhibit, “Faces of Sudan: Portraits of Forgiveness and Strength,” they might be surprised by the joy in peoples’ faces, especially considering the circumstance.

“Each photo comes with a wonderful story behind each one,” she says. “I talked with the people and interviewed them.”

“Voices of Refugees,” a new addition to the Extravaganza event, will begin at 7 p.m. on Feb. 20, where attendees will hear directly from four refugees who had to flee their homes in Sudan, Iraq, Burma and Somalia.

“Obviously, nobody would want to experience being a refugee,” says Gueddiche. “However, if you are forced to make that difficult transition, it is nice to have the opportunity to stand up and say what happened and thank America for giving them a place to come.”

On Feb. 22 Driscoll Center will host live performances of music and dance from Africa between 6 and 9 p.m. An African market will be open for people to buy items, such as jewelry and baskets, made by Africans. Vogel’s photographs will be displayed along the Driscoll walkway.

The events are free and open to the public. The African Community Center conducts educational and social service programs that help newcomers resettle in their new communities. DU’s International Student Organization is cosponsoring the event.

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