Portraits of Integration: Journeys toward Belonging

This message is different than some of mine, and for good reason, too! I am thrilled to introduce you to someone by way of this article.

Having had the pleasure of Estera Pirosca as an intern, from the John Glenn School of Public Affairs, working in my office for the past two years, I had no doubt that if anyone could accurately and respectfully show the mosaic of races, cultures, and ethnicities that make up the immigrant communities of Franklin County, it would be her. She does so elegantly and eloquently in her just-unveiled book, Portraits of Integration: Journeys toward Belonging.

Estera is an amazing young woman. She combines dedication, attention to detail, and the strong research methodology of the John Glenn School with empathy and understanding. And as an immigrant herself, she can tell these stories in a voice and with a depth that no one else can.

This storytelling is a pure gift to the reader, to the community, and to those who are profiled in her pages. In many cases, these immigrants had never told their story – or at least their full story – and Estera has brought each to life. These residents, these neighbors of yours and mine, welcomed her into their homes and their lives and their hearts, and shared their most intimate and raw stories. That sharing is a gift to each of us, and to our entire Franklin County community.

The stories on her pages will have you in tears of sorrow and tears of laughter. You will feel the fear and flight of those running away from their homeland, and the joy and excitement of those running toward theirs. You’ll meet men and women, gay and straight, young and old, affluent and poor. Their origins are far apart, their journeys quite different, and yet their spirits and hopes and dreams are in many ways the same. They are the dreams of freedom, of safety, of diversity and acceptance.

Hers is a remarkable book, a bibliography, and an almanac rolled into one. It is an electron-microscope image of the complexity and simplicity and diversity and unanimity and segregation and integration that is the Franklin County immigrant experience.

I’m proud to have assembled around me a team such as Estera, my aide, Michael Daniels, and our public affairs officer Marty Homan, who working together and with their colleagues within and without County government, have brought forth this gift to us all. Thank you, Estera, Marty and Michael. Your work here and in all you do makes real my favorite quote from Anne Frank, “No one need wait a single moment to begin to change the world.”

Click here to download
Estera’s book for free

(approx 5 Mb download)

It’s our office’s gift to you and to the diverse residents that make our County such an amazing place.

Published May 7, 2013

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