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Becky Field and Cultural Diversity in New Hampshire

By Nick Pulliam; For The Clock
On October 17, 2017

Becky Field and Cultural Diversity in New Hampshire 

Nick Pulliam

For The Clock

ntpulliam@plymouth.edu 

Typically, New Hampshire is not seen as a very diverse state. Simply because 92% of the population is Caucasian, so when Becky Field began working to take photos that highlight the state’s diversity, a few of her colleagues assumed that she would not find very much. To their surprise, it has been five years since she started and it does not look like she’ll be slowing down anytime soon.

Her work is on display right outside the Center Lodge, so you can go there to get an idea of what it is she does.

It all started with an act of hatred. In 2012, the homes of four refugee families in Concord were vandalized with obscene language spray painted on their walls. When Field heard about this happening in her own town, she decided she wanted to help refugee and immigrant communities feel welcome in their new country by photographing the people who were coming into New Hampshire from all over the world.

“Think about what it would feel like. They suddenly had to leave under pressure, not taking anything with them except maybe what they could fit in a plastic grocery bag, and then getting dropped into a foreign land where they don’t know the language, they don’t know the laws, they don’t know the school system, they don’t even know where to get a loaf of bread and suddenly they have to pick up a whole new life. And they’ve left so much behind.” Field said.

Field believes that one of the major hurdles these families face is discrimination, she has met many refugees and immigrants with valuable skills working in low income jobs because they could not find a job in their line of work. It could be because of the language barrier or personal prejudice by potential employers. And unfortunately for the younger members of the family, especially the college students, it has been difficult for them to pursue a higher education past an associate’s degree. Members of these communities recognize the value in a higher education and Field has worked with their leaders, as well as members of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation to create the Different Roots Scholarship Fund. They are hoping that through donations they will be able to help students in refugee and immigrant families achieve their goals through a higher education with this scholarship.

Over these past five years, Field has met with thousands of refugees and taken over 100,000 photos. She was able to publish a book of some of those photos called Different Roots, Common Dreams: New Hampshire’s Cultural Diversity. She hopes that her work, which she wants to continue doing for a long time, will show everyone the struggles that these people have had to endure and that while there is a lot that makes us different, there is plenty that makes us the same as well. 

 

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