Home is Distant Shores 

October 2, 2019

Five Films of Personal Experience and Panel Discussion 

Scent of Geranium

By Naghmeh Farzaneh

Immigration is a new chapter in one’s life, a chapter with unexpected events that can take one’s life down paths different from the one imagined. This film is an autobiographical account of the director’s experience with immigration.

Zain’s Summer: From Refugee to American Boy

By Joshua Seftel

With the help of Jay-Z and Michael Jackson, a Pakistani refugee tries to blossom in his new surroundings. Made in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (rescue.org).


Audrey Assad: the daughter of a Syrian refugee

By Blaine Hogan

Singer / Songwriter, Audrey Assad tells her family’s story of fleeing Syria and making a life in the United States.

George and Grace

By Judd Ehrlich

After three long years in a Ugandan military prison, George — a former student activist — escaped captivity, seeking asylum far away from the torture he had endured at the hands of an oppressive and brutal regime. In the U.S., he met Grace, a fellow Ugandan refugee, and everything changed as they started a family and a life together in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights. In GEORGE & GRACE, their story takes a dramatic turn as George is again detained, this time by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement, who threaten to turn him back into the hands of his former captors.

One Man’s Journey From Refugee to Mayor

By Great Big Story

Helena, Montana has about 30,000 residents and Mayor Wilmot Collins wants to know what each and every one of them thinks. He meets with constituents the first Wednesday of every month, eager to hear firsthand how he can support and improve the community that gave his family a second chance. Collins’ own road to Helena was arduous and unexpected, and it all started in Liberia over 20 years ago.

Panel Discussion

My Story: A Conversation with North Carolina Immigrants and Refugees.


Jason DeBruyn is the WUNC data reporter. In this role, he investigates story lines hidden in data to uncover untold issues that matter to North Carolinians. He is passionate about giving a voice to the voiceless and using data to shine a light on disenfranchised groups who have been taken advantage of.

Panel Guests

Thuy Dancik escaped Vietnam with her family on the day of the fall of Saigon in April 1975, and spent several months in various refugee camps before settling in Queens, New York. Thuy worked at Merrill Lynch and Comtex Systems, then formed and ran a software company with her husband for nearly 30 years. Thuy has been very active in giving her time and financial support to various non-profit organizations in the area, including the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

Esperanza Hernandez is a Duke University student whose background as a formerly undocumented immigrant has fueled her passion for immigrant rights and interest in Mexican-American history. Esperanza serves as co-President of Define American, Duke University Chapter.

Njathi Kabui was born in rural Kenya to a coffee farmer mother and restaurant owner father, both of whom were active  in the Kenyan independence movement. Immigrating to the United States at the age of 20, Chef Kabui earned Masters degrees in both Medical and Urban Anthropology at the University of Memphis and a Bachelors in Political Science and Philosophy Studies at the historically black LeMoyne-Owen College. An internationally celebrated organic chef, urban farmer, and food activist, he now leverages his rich legacy by sharing his extensive knowledge of farming, culinary skills, and food justice as he travels across America, Europe, and Africa.

Yoana Nin emigrated from Romania to Los Angeles in 2005 after she won the Green Card Lottery. Holding a BFA in Theater and Film, her career as an actress took off quickly, and she worked in several movie and theatre productions and music videos.  Yoana and her husband moved to NC after their first baby was born and founded The Prosperous Agency/ Yoana Nin Realty, where she serves the real estate market as a Certified International Property Specialist.

Ivett Adelaida Manosalva Romero came to the US around two years ago as a Venezuelan asylee. Following a career as international lawyer in her home country, Ivett continues to work in the legal field here as a Paralegal.