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Exploring humankind at WSCC

January 10, 2019

The Humankind series at West Shore Community College is hitting the ground running in 2019 as it continues to explore the cultural, social and political parallels between the United States and the Middle East.

The series is now in its second year, and WSCC organizers and faculty members are eager to engage with the community and students by encouraging people to thoughtfully identify the similarities and differences between American and Middle Eastern cultures.

“What most inspires me about the Humankind project are the moments of connection,” said Seán Henne, WSCC professor of English and education. “There is quite a bit of power unleashed when students from our corner of rural West Michigan look up and recognize their connections to a more global community.”

WSCC Dean of Arts and Sciences Brook Portmann said the idea behind the series is to compare the U.S. with other nations and regions.

“It’s usually a place in the world and then an issue or topic or field,” Portmann said. “The first year was western Africa, and so what we were looking at was western Africa and science. This year is the Middle East, and the issue is sense of place and land.”

‘Crossing Borders’

The winter selection of the series will begin with an exhibit inspired by the work of photographer Jim Lommasson, whose “What we Carried: Fragments from Iraq and Syria” collection opened the second year of Humankind in August 2018.

“Crossing Borders” takes inspiration from Lommasson’s exhibit, which featured photographs of objects brought by Iraqi and Syrian refugees when they fled to the U.S.

Portmann said Lommasson was “generous with the creative idea” of building art forms from objects and written memories, and encouraged students from WSCC and Mason County Central High School to work on projects of their own.

“We’ll have works that the students took and writings around them — the same kind of idea that Lommasson shared,” she said.

Rachel Brock, art educator at MCC, and Bill Sievert, WSCC photography teacher, worked with students on their projects, and exposed them to people in the area who have also moved from place to place.

Brock and Sievert took students to the Oceana Hispanic Center and the Oceana County Services Building to meet with and interview migrant families, taking photographs of the items that have been important to them as they’ve moved from place to place.

See The Scene in Thursday’s Ludington Daily News print or e-Edition for the full story.

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