The Refugee Experience in Utah

PBS Utah Event
Event Date(s): 
Wednesday, Mar 24, 2021 - 7:00pm to 8:30pm

Join PBS Utah, the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, the Inclusion Center at Utah State University, and the Cache Refugee and Immigrant Connection for a dynamic discussion about the refugee experience in Utah. Using literature, film, and art as resources, we’ll learn more about the refugee experience from several New Americans who make Utah their home.

Participants are asked to come prepared having read The Best We Could Do, and together we’ll watch a short PBS Utah documentary, Finding Home: Utah’s Refugee Story. A panel of experts will join us to discuss the stories we’ve heard and how we can create a better community for our newest neighbors.

As a special treat, our partner at the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art has invited an artist to talk about a piece of work, relevant to the refugee experience. Participants will get to see a brief presentation about his piece.

Toll Road(to Paradise)”Mario Uribe, 1992, Serigraph

In the 1980’s and 90’s, hundreds of illegal immigrants coming into the US from Mexico died crossing freeways in Southern California, unfamiliar with the speed that vehicles were traveling.  The heavy toll prompted Cal Trans to create a freeway sign warning motorists of crossing illegal aliens, similar to deer or cattle crossing signs. It was unclear if the purpose of the signs was to protect the immigrants or the motorists.  Toll Road tells a different story: of sacrifice for freedom and opportunity.


Naja Pham Lockwood is a patron and collaborator of social change through film and the arts. Her independent executive producing and philanthropic credits include academy nominated Last Days in Vietnam, PBS Asian Americans film series, Toronto International Film Festival premiere of Coming Home Again, Gook, Cries from Syria and First Days with StoryCorp. She was part of Silicon Valley’s campaign to fund and support Crazy Rich Asians that have blazed a pathway for greater Asian-American representation. Born in Vietnam, Naja immigrated to Massachusetts during the Fall of Saigon. She graduated with a BA from Boston University. She then returned to Vietnam under the sponsorship of Georgetown University, from 1991 to 1993, as one of the first Vietnamese Americans to study at Hanoi University after the war. After returning from Vietnam, Naja earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and worked in investment banking and media in New York, Singapore and London. As a refugee, she continues to advocate for immigrants from her undergraduate years to her current work with the Governor's Workforce Services and Catholic Community Services in Utah. She is the Founder and CEO of to support female artisans of Southeast Asia. Throughout Naja’s life, there has always been a commitment to social justice and making sure the voices of the under-represented, the minority and the oppressed are heard.

Peter Frost, LCSW, is the Director of Youth and Family Services for the Refugee and Immigrant Center - Asian Association of Utah. Peter has been working in the mental health field as a therapist and program coordinator for 8 years. During his time with Asian Association of Utah Peter has had the chance to work on coalitions and committees designed to prevention future mental health issues in youth and adult populations while also providing more mental health education and services to refugee and immigrant populations. 

Chad Pemberton is an immigration attorney based in Logan. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree from University of Utah and earned his law degree from Thomas Cooley Law School in Grand Rapid, Michigan. Chad is a dedicated immigrant advocate who brings significant experience in immigration law to CRIC. Chad currently also serves as the Utah Director for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 88 based in Phoenix. His work with the union has been focused on providing immigration assistance to union members and helping to protect workers from discrimination and abuse in the workplace.

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