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Survive and Thrive

World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to commemorate the strength, courage, and resilience of millions of refugees around the globe. The first World Refugee Day was observed on June 20, 2001, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. Since then, the day has been an occasion to shine a light on the rights, needs, and dreams of refugees, helping to mobilize political will and resources so they can not only survive but also thrive. 

In American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago, we feature the story of Norjahan Binti Fozarahman. As a Rohingya in Burma, she faced violent persecution in her homeland. Fozarahman and her family endured a long, tortuous passage through Thailand and Malaysia before arriving in Chicago thanks to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Rohingya people of Burma (officially known as Myanmar) are Muslims in a Buddhist-majority country that does not recognize them as a distinct ethnic group or allow them citizenship. Fleeing state-sponsored genocide, about 1,500 Rohingya have settled in Chicago and its suburbs. Many have sought aid at the Rohingya Cultural Center on Devon Avenue in the West Ridge neighborhood. 

Learn more about Norjahan Binti Fozarahman and her journey to Chicago in our oral history interview with her. Listen now.

Norjahan Binti Fozarahman with her husband, 2019. Photograph by Sadaf Syed Photography

Stories of Muslim Chicago

Our exhibition American Medina: Stories of Muslim Chicago draws from more than 100 interviews conducted with Muslim Chicagoans sharing their stories of faith, identity, and personal journeys. Dozens of objects from local individuals and organizations, such as garments, artwork, and photographs, as well as videos and interactive experiences expand on how and why Chicago is known as the American Medina. Learn more.

Chicago History Museum Sharing Chicago's Stories
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