New Immigrant and Refugee Visions - NIRV

After hosting a viewing and discussion on October 26, 2018, The Diversity Council and Rochester Public Schools Community Education have purchased viewing rights to several short films created by new immigrants and refugees in the United States. We now share these films with our community to amplify their unique insider perspectives on the challenges that immigrants face and the contributions they make to American culture, economy and social fabric.


Immigration, refugees, and immigration policy are critical issues for many American communities.  We share the belief that in order for people from diverse economic and cultural backgrounds to make responsible and equitable decisions about their communities, they need to learn about each other’s experiences, concerns and needs.


CSFilm is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing access to stories rooted in local perspectives often under-represented in the media. 

To learn more about CSFilm and their NIRV project,


   List of Films  


Borrowing Fire

By Kebrewosen (Kiki) Densamo

Full Film: (12:56)


“In Ethiopia, growing up, we used to go to the neighbor and say, ‘Can I borrow some fire?’ because we didn’t have matches. So people take a little fire and go back to their kitchen and start their own fire.” Yonas tells this story to his congregation as an analogy for their relationship with God, borrowing God’s “fire” to warm and feed their own lives. It also symbolizes what Yonas sees as his purpose as an immigrant. After a long period of hardship in his early days in the US in big northern cities, he found restoration in the Bible and moved to the rural South to help people struggling with depression, homelessness and addiction. Contrary to stereotypes about immigrants and rural Americans, Yonas finds that his immigrant heritage, accent and personality actually open doors with people everywhere: in the gas station and two coffee shops he owns, and through his church, which began as a bible study group in his gas station. Every day he shares his own “fire” with people from all walks of life to help them find hope, heal and strengthen their lives, as individuals and as a community.


Campaign for a New American
By Qin Li of China
Full Film: (10:05)

An Indian immigrant’s daughter campaigns to be elected as the first woman of color to the city-council of a working class town that has always been a magnet for immigrants. The town, 38% new immigrant,
is still being run by the offspring of last century’s immigrants. Win or lose – the new folks on the block will sooner or later take the reins of power and responsibility – or will they?

Worlds Apart at Home
By Abdirahman Abdi of Somalia
Full Film: (9:58)

A Somali family escaped the conflict of their home country. Now they navigate a conflict between parents and teenagers – one trying to fit in to their adopted inner-city American culture and the other trying to hold on to their Somali traditions.

Navigating Hope
By Sayed Najib Hashimi of Afghanistan
Full Film: (8:14)

“A refugee is that person who has lost everything in his life. But he hasn’t given up his hope.” Compelling words from a man who lived over 17 years in a refugee camp in Nepal, where he had fled as a boy with his family to escape persecution as Christians in their Buddhist country of Bhutan. Arriving as a man in the United States nearly two decades later, he finds new hope and help in a “big country” he had never heard of as a child. As his life of freedom grows, he chooses to work two different jobs helping other refugees from many countries to build on their hope and navigate the challenges of their new life in America.

She’s an American Child
By Rafael DeLeon of the Dominican Republic
Full Film: (10:46)

A dilemma of identity. A life of uncertainty. A woman facing domestic violence in the Dominican Republic escaped to the United States with her toddler daughter. The woman remains undocumented and her now 22-year old daughter has been granted protection by the US government through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Will one or both be deported? Will the daughter end up in country she has not set foot in since she was five years old?

Lift with Your Heart
By Braulio Tellez-Vilches of Cuba
Full Film: (7:44)

A dancer struggles for years to find a sense of belonging in his native country of Haiti and in the United States. He discovers his purpose and his own healing in teaching dance to motivate and heal community
members of all ages and backgrounds and engage them in celebrating their own cultural heritage.

Seeking Settled Ground
By Mohammad (Roman) Arifuzzuman
Full Film: (11:30)

From the killing fields of northern Myanmar (Burma), a young Rohingya man, persecuted as a Muslim, escapes near certain death or imprisonment by walking to Bangladesh. On a boat with 500-600 others he floats from country to country seeking refuge. 2-plus years later, from a refugee camp in Indonesia, he is granted asylum in the United States. There are no other Rohingya where he is placed in the US,
nobody who speaks his language. He desperately misses his family, but is grateful to be alive and learning the ways of a new life that was inconceivable just a few months ago.

Rhythms of Respect
By Katsyris Rivera Kientz
Full Film: (9:21)

“The first presentation I did in a school, about Caribbean dance and music], in 1987, a Puerto Rican student came to me and he said, “I didn’t know I was so important.” Wow! Not only in his mind and in his body there was a change, but in his friends, non-Puerto Rican white people, there was a lot of change - in attitudes, in behaviors. That’s when I said, ‘I cannot stop this work.’” Jorge Arce, a Puerto Rican dancer, musician, educator, and political activist, engages people of all ages through dance and music. “… as Puerto Ricans, sometimes we feel like immigrants [even though we are Americans]. We feel that we can be basically taken out of this country, even with all the big contributions we have made. People sometimes feel fearful. It doesn’t make sense. So we need to turn everything around.”

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