Project FINE hosts virtual film screening, celebrates Welcoming Week

Project FINE hosts virtual film screening, celebrates Welcoming Week

Kelli Knobloch, Features Reporter

To celebrate Welcoming Week, Project FINE hosted a virtual screening and discussion of three films that were by and about immigrants.

Project FINE stands for Focus on Integrating Newcomers through Education and is a non-profit organization that helps integrate new people into the community.

Fatima Said, the Executive Director of Project FINE, mentioned during the screening that showing these films was a part of Project FINE’s way of celebrating Welcoming Week.

“At Project FINE, this is our seventh year celebrating Welcoming Week,” Said said.

Welcoming Week is an annual celebration in September that brings together immigrants, refugees and long-term residents to help build a sense of unity and belonging in the community.

The week is a part of a large non-profit organization called Welcoming America that supplies a roadmap and support to help communities become more inclusive toward immigrants and all residents.

“Winona was the first city in Minnesota to join Welcoming America and become the first welcoming city in Minnesota,” Said said.

Said hosted the virtual screening and discussion of the three films.

“When I first saw some of the films at a conference, I was attracted to them because I feel that there is no better way to advertise our welcoming and inclusion then showing the stories of people who are new in our communities,” Said said.

All the films are a part of a community project named New Immigrant and Refugee Visions that are made up of ten documentaries that are by and about immigrants and refugees.

The first short film shown was called “Campaign for a New American” by Qin Li that follows one Indian immigrants’ daughter as she campaigns to be elected as the first woman of color to their town’s city council.

The second film was titled “Lift with Your Heart” by Braulio Tellez-Vilches and follows a choreographer who teaches native Haitian dance to engage with and heal his community.

The final film was called “Seeking Settled Ground” by Mohammad Arifuzzaman and follows a young Rohingya immigrant, who was granted asylum in the United States, as he tries to settle in and start over.

Hannah Harper, a sophomore communication studies major, was one of the attendees at the screening.

“The films were really powerful in the sense that seeing that different perspective of refugees and immigrants and how they try to make an impact in their communities was very inspiring,” Harper said.

Harper said that she hopes to intern at Project FINE next year.

“I would love to work with Project FINE,” Harper said. “I think they are an amazing organization that sheds the light on refugees and immigrant’s life here and how they have an impact on our community.”

Even with COVID-19 canceling plans, Project FINE still planned on celebrating Welcoming Week, with the virtual screening and discussion being just one event of many that took place during the week.

Even with Welcoming Week over, Project FINE says they continue to work and help the community.

“These are really tough times for all of us, but when a crisis hits, we just need to work more because the needs of our community are much higher now,” Said said.