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My Family, Our Stories 

Exhibit: My Family, Our Stories

Dates: Showing now through July 6

Location: The Light Factory, Spirit Square, 345 N. College St.

Info: 704-333-9755 or

Imagine a world where nothing makes sense. You have all your senses but when people talk, you can't understand them. You are torn from everything you have known and are placed in a world where you can't vocalize your thoughts and emotions. The only place you feel safe and understood is with your family.

My Family, Our Stories, an exhibit created by English as a Second Language (ESL) students in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system, shows what it's like for several teenagers, as they struggle with the barriers of language, culture and nationality.

This exhibit is a reflective look on the challenges of immigration. The students, who come from Mexico, South Korea, Ecuador, Iran, China and several other countries, use English to tell their stories. They talk about their families, what brought them here, and what it means to be an American. Dee Grano, Marketing Director for The Light Factory, explains. "The whole idea behind the project is that they use English to share with us who they are and what forces made them that way, whether those forces are political, familial or otherwise. The underlying theme is to become more American, not by being how Americans are, but by contributing to the greater narrative of what it means to be an American."

The students received over 20 hours of instruction in photography and narrative writing to put together this exhibit. Instructors Melissa Lukenbaugh and Van Miller took time to help these students write and photograph their lives, hopes and dreams.

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