LOCO Festival to shine a light on refugee crisis

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From Binghamton University:

BINGHAMTON, NY – Binghamton University will co-host the first international version of the LOCO Festival virtually from May 3 to May 6, to shine a light on the global refugee crisis. This event is free and open to the public.

All around the world, individuals flee their hometowns and homelands, driven by war, poverty and oppression. But in the steady stream of news coverage, the innate humanity of refugees, immigrants and asylum-seekers is often lost, drowned out by a drumbeat of politics and fear. As events in the world continue to fuel the refugee crisis, the LOCO Festival seeks to increase cultural competence as a way to promote solidarity and cooperation.

The project was originally created in Spain by the Spanish Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (Agencia de la ONU para los Refugiados, or ACNUR) to raise student awareness of refugee issues and the importance of human rights, compassion and activism. The name comes from the idea that when indifference is normal, the only hope comes from being crazy, or loco in Spanish.

“We decided to bring it to Binghamton because we have great diversity here,” said Global Studies program coordinator Marisol Marcin. “And with everything that has gone on in the country, we need to remember that diversity is a positive thing. We are all humans.”

The festival will include a series of online educational activities that both celebrate diversity and engage campus and community members in thinking about refugee, asylum and immigration issues in our country and the world.

Workshops and discussions will include such topics as immigrants and refugees in the Southern Tier, human rights issues surrounding migration, the impact of COVID-19 on immigration, the recent rise in violence against Asian-Americans, immigrant storytelling and lessons of resilience.

A virtual art gallery will feature works by Binghamton University and local high school student artists; writers will also share readings of their work. Students and community members are also invited to share videos demonstrating how to make dishes from their cultures.

The event is the first LOCO Festival held outside of Spain. Binghamton’s event is currently a partnership between ACNUR, the Center for Civic Engagement, the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility and the American Civic Association in Binghamton, as well as the Global Studies program, the Multicultural Resource Center, the Department of Art and Design, the English Language Institute, and International Student and Scholar Services. Sponsors also include Latin American and Caribbean Area Studies, the Department of Romance Languages, College-in-the-Woods, the Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention and the Human Rights Institute.

Visit locofestival.org for information and a schedule of events.

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