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New Americans

Lorrie Dallek | Georgia, United States

Organization: Lorrie Dallek Photography

Pai plays with his son, Samuel, who is the only child born in the US.

Without question, the refugee crisis is affecting the entire world.  Those on location are suffering unfathononable losses.  Western countries are in conflict over how to best address the needs at hand while tryin gto balance the economic and security impact of accepting refugees into their country. 

With this in mind, I created this social documentay, "New Americans." This story is an intimate look at the Sing-Hing refugee family's journey assimilatiing into American life in Clarkston, Georgia, USA.   

Like generations of immigrants who have preceded them.  They came to the U.S. with the belief that through hard work they, too, could share in the American Dream. And that is what they are doing.  The parents are working multiple jobs and the children are working hard at school trying to catch up.  

Slowly, they are assimilating into American society, Improving their lot and making a contribution.  They are our "New Americans" and grateful to be in theiir new home.


My journey into the lives of the Sing-Hing family from Myanmar began almost four years ago. I was selling my photo book “The Women of Southeast Asia” when, a teacher with the Global Village Project (GVP), a school for refugee girls, was drawn to my booth. She immediately recognized the faces of the women in the book. They were the same faces as the girls she was teaching here in the U.S.I was invited to present a slide show of people from their country of origin. The 32 girls attending the school just loved seeing their homeland. This was the start of my involvement in Georgia’s refugee community as a volunteer. Initially, I taughta photo class at GVP where photography was used as an adjunct to learning English.

As life would have it, one thing led to the next. I continued volunteering in different roles mostly utilizing my photography. And then I became a mentor to an 11-year-old Burmese girl, who had taken my photography class. Initially I focused on her educational and social needs. Over time I got to know her parents and siblings. As they came to trust me, I began to assume the role of advocate for the entire family. Each day was different. One day we were addressing a child’s educational needs, the next reviewing documents that arrived in the mail. They would ask me to lend an opinion on different matters that would arise.

My involvement with their struggles and triumphs became the subject of this photo essay, “New Americans". As time passed I learned how and why they came to the U.S. Today they are like extended family to me and I am deeply involved with Georgia's refugee community.

Lorriebecame interested inphotography more than 30 years ago. In 2006 she left the corporate world,graduated from the Image programat Creative Circus, an Atlanta-basedadvertising school. Shebegan usingher photographic skills to produceadvertising campaigns and assist nongovernmentalorganizations and nonprofits,
including the Pennsylvania University School ofMedicine, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Children’sOrganization of Southeast Asia, among others.

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