February Screenings of Welcoming Michigan film, "Journeys: Stories from Van Buren"

We are pleased to share that our first month of film screenings and discussions of the Welcoming Michigan film, "Journeys: Stories from Van Buren," have been successful. We started with our first screening and discussion at Lake Michigan College, hosted by the South Haven Diversity Coalition. Forty coalition members and students attended and we had a lively and thought-provoking discussion following the film viewing (see photo of small group discussions about what attendees took away from the film). Welcoming Michigan looks forward to future collaborations with the South Haven Diversity Coalition.

We also showed to the film at the Immaculate Conception Church in Hartford, MI, which is home to both U.S.-born community members and one of the largest Hispanic faith communities in Van Buren County. One screening took place after the English mass and another screening happened after the Spanish mass. Various U.S.-born receiving community members shared that the film really highlighted some of the struggles the immigrant and migration community faces, and the challenging nature of agricultural work. Members from the Hispanic community, some of whom are immigrants and some who were born in the U.S., said they were happy the film had been made to share some of the personal stories of the immigrant and migrant community from the area. One immigrant community member commented on how she was surprised but happy to see the examples of welcoming that have taken place in this area of the state over the years.

Our film screening series also included a showing at Kalamazoo College. The event was co-organized by the Migrant Rights Association on campus. Around 30 students, staff, faculty, and community members attended. The post-film discussion was very meaningful and included small and large group conversations about how the Kalamazoo College campus can work to become more welcoming toward immigrant students and community members.

The most recent film showings took place at the Hartford United Methodist Church. In conjunction with a community soup dinner for congregation members, we shared the films twice back to back, with discussions following each viewing. Various community members said the film made them think deeper about their fellow community members may feel when they encounter someone who isn't welcoming, or when their culture isn't understood.

We are looking forward to future "Journeys" film screenings throughout Van Buren County over the coming months. The next screening and discussion is scheduled for Friday, March 22nd at 7pm at the Paw Paw Public Library. We are currently working to schedule screenings at St. Basil's Catholic Church in South Haven, as well as Bangor United Methodist Church, Hartford Middle School, and South Haven High School. If you are interested in suggesting or helping to organize a screening at your church, school, or community organization, please contact West Michigan Communities Coordinator, Lillie Wolff, at (269)492-7196, ext. 238, or lwolff@lsscm.org. To view the trailer for the film, please click here.We are also happy to mail you a copy of the 30 minute film to preview. Thank you!