By Loretta Fulton
A photo exhibit, “By the Olive Trees,” by Michael Friberg and Benjamin Rasmussen, lines the foyer of Logsdon School of Theology, telling visitors who walk in that an emphasis is being placed on the plight of refugees.
The exhibit is free and open to the public. It previously hung in the main hallway of Aldersgate United Methodist Church.
The stunning photos show individuals, places, and families affected by the crisis facing Syrian refugees living in Jordan and Lebanon. In an interview with the Abilene Reporter-News prior to the exhibit going up at Aldersgate in February, Friberg said refugees from war-torn countries often are treated in the abstract. The photo exhibit shows the faces and living conditions of the people affected.
“I hope it makes people see these are real people with real stories,” Friberg said in the Reporter-News interview.
On Sept. 14, Logsdon faculty hosted a forum on refugees, beginning with a luncheon and “table talk,” and an evening presentation featuring a film about the photo exhibit and a talk by Myles Werntz, holder of the T.B. Maston Chair of Christian Ethics at Hardin-Simmons.
At the luncheon, videos of two refugees enrolled at Logsdon was shown and a live interview was conducted with another. Kelly Pigott, who teaches church history at Logsdon, conducted the interview with Ni Thang, a native of the Chin State in northwestern Myanmar.
In an Abilene Reporter-News article, Thang told of having to fee to India in 1998 after he took part in protests to bring democracy to the military-rule country. He eventually arrived in the United States, at the invitation of a friend who lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. His parents still live in Myanmar.
“It is very, very hard,” Thang said.