Home. With our address change this year, our family has experienced a new definition of home. Before we moved on, we took plenty of pictures. But since we moved less than an hour away, we can still drive by our old house. And since we sold our house by ourselves, I could actually even call the new owners and maybe even see inside again. For the Yazidi people of northern Iraq, this is not the case. In fact, their last glimpses of home were taken before they had to flee for their lives. The picture to the right moved me to tears because their last remembrances of home were far different from mine. Photographer Jim Lommasson collected some of their photographs to form a powerful display that is currently at the Nebraska History Museum for one more week. “What We Carried: Lincoln” is powerful.
This exhibit runs through Frida May 25th 2018. So what is the significance of this exhibit and why is it displayed in the middle of the country? The Nebraska History Museum explains in this press summary.
Lincoln, Nebraska is currently home to the largest population of Yazidi (Yah-ZEE-dee) peoples in the United States. The Nebraska History Museum has an exhibit highlighting the Yazidi immigration to Nebraska with a focus on the items they brought with them. What We Carried: Lincoln is a collaborative photographic storytelling project comprising the Yazidi community and photographer Jim Lommasson. See this fascinating exhibit before it ends on Friday May 25th!
What is always helpful for this geography teacher is to see a map. The Middle East is obviously a complicated region. The Yazidis are a people group from a particular part of northern Iraq. Their former home region is almost near the border of Turkey and Syria. Obviously this is not exactly a peaceful part of the world. I found this well-written article that tells a bit more about this almost unknown people group. Note: due the atrocities that they have faced, this article is NOT kid friendly. But I do think if we want to understand where someone is coming from, we need to be okay with the gritty details sometimes.
With our melting pot philosophy, often refugees to this country are expected to become Americans. I thought this three flag photograph was a powerful reminder that none of us can forget where we come from. While I am sure that for many of these people the United States is now home, they still will always be Yazidis at heart. Seeing this photo storytelling exhibit gave me a glimpse into why they are a proud people.
One of the largest images in the exhibit is a memorial to some of the people who did not make it out of the country alive. This was a sobering and necessary point for me. Too many times we can lose the humanity when we watch the news. People become statistics rather than real live human beings who left behind people that loved them.
What We Carried: Lincoln Reflections
After looking at such powerful images, knowing what to do next is a challenge. That is why I appreciate the fact that the Nebraska History Museum provides a place to ponder. At the edge of the exhibit, visitors can think about what they would carry with them if they had to leave home suddenly. For me, this was the reminder that I need to be grateful. My so-called trials are really often nothing more than inconveniences. The images from “What We Carried: Lincoln” will not leave me for a long time.