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  • Writer's pictureIMID

Learn. Discover. Explore.

You may have heard about the Idaho Museum of International Diaspora (IMID - pronounced 'eye mid') and some of you not yet. Here's your chance to learn about its exciting development and progress over a short span of time. The IMID recently held its Fall 2019 Stakeholder Meeting on November 7, 2019 to inform participants of the exciting progress and incredible opportunities. This meeting marked the IMID’s 2nd stakeholder meeting since its founding in 2018. In partnership with Boise State University, the IMID provided stakeholders an opportunity to learn about the IMID’s progress since its incorporation as a non-profit corporation on February 10, 2019. The insights shared at the meeting provided stakeholders a view into the IMID’s innovative approach to build Idaho’s new multipurpose museum aimed for an initial build phase in 2023.

During a journey of discovery, the IMID identified 111 countries of origin and distinct peoples into Idaho over its history, referred to as the Idaho International Map (IIM). Efforts are underway to collaborate with artists who represent countries from the IMID’s IIM and invite their work as part of the museum’s International Artists Gallery. While diaspora-specific museums worldwide have similar goals to feature the trials and tribulations of single diaspora populations – those who’ve been displaced from their origin homelands, the IMID is one of its kind worldwide. It will emerge the international stories of the human journey in creative multidimensional approaches for the world to learn, discover, and explore. The IMID’s mantra of “experience the world in Idaho” demonstrates this endeavor as a true international scale model.

Founder and Executive Director, Palina Louangketh, highlighted the IMID’s programs and offerings that span beyond the traditional museum design elements – art galleries and exhibits – to also include space for an international food district, a theater for the Next Generation Lens program, an educational sector that supports the IMID’s Global Diaspora Curriculum (GDC), and other intriguing aspects that truly define “multipurpose” and innovation. Mike Stefancic, Boise State Assistant Director of Community Partnerships, Service-Learning Program emphasized the value of engaging students in service-learning opportunities and how Boise State interns and students in service-learning courses helped to advance the goals and objectives of the IMID. Featured at the stakeholder event were service-learning posters of Boise State Honors College students from Dr. Sara Fry’s spring 2019 course – HONORS 392: Seeking Opportunity and Refuge – that offered opportunistic proposals of how to engage with various diaspora populations that could eventually turn into viable programs of the IMID.

The IMID Beyond Borders Team (BBT) is made up of a multidisciplinary, multigenerational, and multicultural group of team members who truly think “beyond” the “borders” of Idaho and the United States, but also “beyond” the parameters of a traditional thinking framework. Creative ideas beyond borders, strategic partnerships, and diverse testing environments are their ingredients for innovating thinking into reality. During the stakeholder meeting, IMID Director of Global Alliances, Rachel Emenaker, who also serves as the international Senior Curator, walked the stakeholders through the Armenia itinerary (Aug. 1 – Aug. 14, 2020) of the spring 2020 semester study abroad course, HONORS 392: Cross-Border Voices of Diaspora (Armenia Experience) – a partnership between the IMID and Boise State Honors College. Emenaker’s itinerary design for the August 2020 Armenia study abroad experience will immerse the students in a rich cultural experience that will directly engage them in learning about the multigenerational perspectives of Armenians in Armenia as compared to worldwide perspectives related to the Armenian genocide and additional cultural topics in the diaspora context.

Dr. Andrew Finstuen, Dean of Boise State Honors College and Interim Vice Provost shared exciting details about the partnership between the Honors College and IMID. He highlighted two of the three courses of the IMID’s GDC offered in collaboration with the Honors College: Cross-Cultural Voices of Diaspora and Cross-Border Voices of Diaspora. With the Armenia Experience theme for spring 2020 semester confirmed, Dr. Finstuen expressed his support for additional study abroad destinations that include Israel, Japan, Kenya, and Mexico. Emenaker’s work with domestic and international collaborators for these upcoming destinations is underway with Israel as the next study abroad destination for the course, Cross-Culinary Voices of Diaspora (Israel Experience). This unique course is the IMID’s third course of the GDC. This food-inspired course will incorporate symbolic meanings of foods, ingredients, and culinary traditions – cooking, serving, and eating – in the contexts of diaspora. The course will examine how cultures have evolved based on the culinary journey from origin country to host country and practiced by many generations over history.

Adding to partnership opportunities, the IMID has partnered with Dr. Lisa Meierotto, Boise State Professor of Global and Environmental Studies to plan the Hostile Terrain 94 exhibit – a participatory art project of the Undocumented Migration Project – for fall 2020 at Boise State University. Committed to honoring the stories of the human journey, the IMID’s Academic and Research Team (ART) – led by Stephanie Bacon, Boise State Professor of Art – prepares for the 2021-2022 debut of their book and exhibit project launch in downtown Boise called Arrivals: What’s Left Behind, What Lies Ahead. Arrivals is a project of the IMID’s Cultural Mapping Initiative in which the ART – a team of scholars, explorers, and interns from Boise State University, University of Delaware, and Dickinson College – collaborated to document the human journey of Idaho diasporas across Southern Idaho.

Participants of the IMID Fall 2019 Stakeholder Meeting learned about the IMID’s past, current, and future activities and priorities. Louangketh invited the stakeholders to join the IMID at its Inaugural International Gala – a biennial formal dinner event – on Saturday, September 18, 2021 at Boise Centre in downtown Boise, Idaho. The gala’s theme in 2021 will be 'Experience the World in Idaho' with anticipation of an International Artists Gallery in the lobby of the gala venue that will greet the 1500 local, domestic, and international guests for a memorable evening.

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