January 16, 2009
Carly Campo spent her holiday season a little differently this year.
The Barrett Honors College junior sacrificed many holiday activities last month and dealt with various governmental entities in order to prepare a documentary on a recently arrived refugee family from Bhutan that visually illustrates the resettlement process from a refugee’s point of view.
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“Many individuals, unfortunately, have misinformed and negative perceptions of refugees and I want the opportunity to bring a humanized look into their lives as they adapt to a new culture,” Campo says. “It’s a subject matter many people don’t know a lot about. I hope my project can be used as an educational tool for the public and perhaps by organizations in their endeavors to help refugees.”
The 22-year-old journalism major will spend the next few months chronicling the life of a Bhutanese family as they face several cultural adjustments for her untitled documentary. They include: language barrier, housing, employment, transportation, education, health, diet, money management, rights and responsibilities, and travel.
Jill Johnson, senior program coordinator at Barrett, The Honors College, said the idea for a documentary came about when she noticed Campo’s unique skill sets.
“Carly was looking for a topic idea for her Barrett Honors thesis/creative project, and I mentioned to her the option of doing a documentary because she could combine her journalism skills and passion for community service to produce a film,” Johnson says. “The project will help Carly achieve her academic goals while documenting the journey of a refugee family.” Johnson says all thesis/creative projects are sponsored by a committee of ASU faculty and local community members.
Bhutan is a landlocked nation in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalaya Mountains and is bordered to the south, east and west by India and to the north by Tibet.
Joanne Morales, director of refugee programs for Catholic Charities Community Services, said the Bhutanese government established new eligibility requirements for Bhutanese citizenship in the 1980s that disenfranchised many ethnic Nepalis, stripping them of their civil rights. Since then, all ethnic Nepalis from southern Bhutan have been living in seven different camps in eastern Nepal since they were expelled from their homes more than 16 years ago. Of the more than 100,000 refugees in Nepali camps, the United States will consider resettlement for at least 60,000 of them.
“These refugees have literally been physically forced out of Bhutan and have nowhere to go,” says Morales, who connected Campo with a Bhutanese family through their program. “I am hopeful this documentary will help the community understand why we bring refugees to the United States and how the community can help support them.”
Campo’s interest in refugee issues stems from her experience volunteering for Community Outreach and Advocates for Refugees two years ago. Campo says that first-hand experience made a lasting impression on her.
“Refugees are normal people who unfortunately had to leave their country for whatever reasons, whether that was for political or religious persecution,” Campo said. “They come to the United States to make a better life for themselves and they shouldn’t be condemned for that.”
The half-hour documentary will be screened on March 27 at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication’s Cronkite Theater, 555 N. Central Ave. Admission is free.
For more information about Barrett, The Honors College, visit http://honors.asu.edu.">http://honors.asu.edu/">http://honors.asu.edu.