One of the most exciting things I get to experience in San Diego is the rich cultural diversity we enjoy. It’s fostered in large part by a huge population of refugee families that make San Diego their new home each year.

This Sunday, June 19, is World Refugee Day and we’ll be celebrating local refugees and their contributions to San Diego with an event at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.

I’ll be there presenting a photo essay about Har Sin, a 24-year-old refugee from Burma who is deaf. He arrived in the United States with no way to formally communicate and we watched as he learned about sign language and the opportunities it could create in his life.

When we published this story last October, I presented 13 images. I’ll be presenting some never-before-published photos Sunday and telling the story of Har Sin’s journey and our challenges reporting the story.

I’m extremely honored to be the opening act for what will follow. International humanitarian photographer Roberto “Bear” Guerra will also present a photo essay about Somali Bantu refugees resettling in the United States. Pulitzer Prize winning Los Angeles Times photographer Don Bartletti will follow, presenting photos of Iraqi refugees settling and adjusting in San Diego.

Filmmaker Fady Hadid will round out the program with the San Diego premiere of his film “Where We Live.”

If that’s not enough, there will be singing, dancing and food by refugees from all over the world.

The event, which is free and open to the public, runs from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and my presentation will begin at 1:20 p.m. Here’s the full program. And, below are some images from my photo essay and a video by Guerra about the event and refugee life in San Diego.

Please contact Sam Hodgson directly at or 619.550.5664 and follow him on Twitter:

Sam Hodgson

Sam Hodgson is a freelance photojournalist and contributor to Voice of San Diego. You can contact him at

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