July 28, 2016

Guilford to Collect, Share Refugee Stories

The Facing Project, a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities by connecting people through stories, has chosen Guilford College and four other North Carolina schools to explore local issues by collecting and sharing oral histories.

Guilford’s “facing project” – Facing Immigration: Refugee Stories – will begin collecting stories in the fall.

“For over 25 years Guilford College and its Bonner Center have enjoyed a rich relationship with the immigrant and refugee community of Greensboro,” said James Shields, director of Guilford’s Bonner Center for Community Service and Learning. “The impact on our students has been immeasurable and transformational.”

The Facing Project will help Guilford share that experience with others.

North Carolina Campus Compact, a network of 36 colleges and universities, worked with The Facing Project to select the five schools through a competitive application process that prioritized issues related to poverty or diversity.

The Facing Project approach shares the stories of local people through the talent of local writers and actors. Writers interview community members who are facing the issue and capture their stories in the first-person. The accounts are then compiled as a book and brought to life on stage through a community theatre event.

The nonprofit will provide each participating campus a package of materials and services – a toolkit, training, expert consultation, editing and web hosting for the final project – valued at $1,500.

All five schools are members of NC Campus Compact. The other four participating institutions, their communities and the issues they will face are:

  • UNC Asheville: Asheville – Facing Affordable Housing
  • UNC Wilmington: Navassa – Facing Community Change
  • Western Piedmont Community College: Burke County – Facing Immigration
  • Winston-Salem State University: Forsyth County – Facing Health Disparities

Davidson College, also an NC Campus Compact member campus, completed its own project, Facing Perfectionism, in 2015.

Indiana Campus Compact Executive Director J.R. Jamison and New York Times bestselling author Kelsey Timmerman co-founded The Facing Project in 2012. Since then it has worked with 30 communities in eight states and two countries and has been hailed by The Huffington Post as one of three oral history projects to watch.