Discussion Panel: Immigration Experiences – Recording Available!

Discussion Panel: Immigration Experiences in Hopewell Valley
Sunday, March 20, 2022 @ 3 pm via Zoom and Viewing Party at the Hopewell Branch of Mercer County Library

As part of the 2022 Big Read initiative, The Hopewell Museum and Hopewell Valley Historical Society are partnering with the Pennington Public Library to present a conversation on how local families with a primary, secondary or tertiary immigrant experiences move through this grand notion of the “American Dream.” Special thanks to Mercer County Library for being our in-person viewing party hosts!

Facilitator: Ian Burrow, Owner at BurrowIntoHistory LLC
Ian Burrow is a semi-retired archaeologist. He was born, raised and educated in England. After working there for 10 years as a professional archaeologist, he emigrated to the United States with his American wife Cathe in 1988 to continue his archaeological career in New Jersey and surrounding states. He serves on the Board of the Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (among other things). Cathe was born in Canada. Their daughter is from Peru, and her husband Leo is Mexican/Costa Rican.


Dr. David Angwenyi – Founder/CEO, Global Connections Kenya, Founder, Hopewell-Keroka Alliance
Dr. Angweni is an educator at Hopewell Regional School District. He is the Founder/CEO of Global Connections Kenya, a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise funds to support students to implement projects that help link American communities with villages in Kenya. He is also Founder of Hopewell-Keroka Alliance, a non-profit organization that links Hopewell Valley Community with the Keroka area of South Western Kenya for the purpose of improving people’s lives in the villages.

Kim T. Ha – Director, Pennington Public Library
Kim T. Ha has been Director of the Pennington Library for the past ten years. She is a goals-driven, community-oriented leader with a collaborative style that fosters individual creativity and empowers others by encouraging them to take ownership of their work. Ms. Ha is inspired by how public libraries open worlds of possibilities to people of all backgrounds. Libraries have been a cornerstone of her life from the youngest age, thanks to her Vietnamese immigrant parents taking her to local libraries weekly where she borrowed piles of books nearly as tall as herself!

Ellyn Ito – Executive Director, Seeds to Sew
Ms. Ito has served in executive roles in both public and private companies and serves on the board of several organizations. She is currently the CEO and co-founder of Within Health, a greater-good company offering medication-free electroceuticals to improve health and mental wellness. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of Seeds to Sew International, a non-profit organization committed to improving the lives of women and girls in compromised communities. Ms. Ito’s social justice focus fuels her passion to create opportunities for those less fortunate.

Mikaela Levons – Director of Stakeholder Relations, Equal Justice USA
Mikaela Levons is Director of Stakeholder Relations, Equal Justice USA. Mikaela Levons (she/her) is a native of Kingston, Jamaica, who spends her days connecting generous people and institutions who want to invest in community safety with the work of Equal Justice USA. She ensures that EJUSA has the resources to transform the justice system by promoting responses to violence that break cycles of trauma. She’s a Trustee of Young Audiences of NJ and Eastern PA (YA), which inspires young people and expands their learning through the arts, and also serves on the board of the Fergus Simpson Foundation, a non-profit operating in rural Jamaica.

Committeewoman Uma Purandare – Hopewell Township Committee Member, Founder, Marathi School
Uma Purandare is a Hopewell Township Committee Member and Founder of the Marathi Language School. She is on the Township’s Board of Health and is the liaison to the Lawrence Hopewell Trail, the Environmental Commission, and the Senior Advisory Board. Uma Purandare has been a Girl Scout troop leader and a member of the PTO, has managed A-Z Mentoring to provide free tutoring to underprivileged children, and started Marathi Language School for families and neighboring communities. She volunteers with the Hopewell Valley Mobile Food Pantry.

Colby Cedar Smith – Author, Call Me Athena
Colby Cedar Smith is an award-winning poet, novelist, and educator. She has spent the last fifteen years teaching writing and storytelling workshops in schools, art museums, community centers, university classrooms, non-profits, and corporations. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications and she is the recipient of a 2020 Poetry Fellowship from the New Jersey Council on the Arts. Call Me Athena, A Girl From Detroit, is a novel in verse loosely based on her grandmother’s immigrant experiences.

This program is part of the 2022 Big Read, which encourages the Pennington community to read the same book and participate in a wide variety of events. The Best We Could Do is an intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam. NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Please visit PenningtonLibrary.org/2022BigRead for a full calendar of events and more information.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.