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I had the honor of presenting a photo essay at the Museum of Photographic Arts to help commemorate World Refugee Day yesterday.

I presented images from the project we completed last year about Har Sin, a refugee from Burma who is deaf and learning formal communication for the first time in his life. I included a number of photos that hadn’t been previously published.

This year’s event highlighted refugees’ contributions to San Diego and local panelists included refugees from Burma and Somalia.

Two world-class photographers also showed off their work. Bear Guerra presented images he made in Boston of Somali Bantu families resettling in the United States. Then, Pulitzer Prize-winning LA Times photographer Don Bartletti presented an essay that began in the early days of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and concluded with Iraqi refugees in El Cajon.

We rounded out the evening with a whole lot of delicious food, song and dance.

Organizers from the San Diego Refugee Forum estimated that by the end of the day, we had about 600 participants.

The San Diego Union-Tribune had a report on the event that led with the story of April Moo, a 19-year-old refugee from Burma who just graduated from high school and is headed to San Diego City College. I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel with Moo.

In honor of World Refugee Day, here’s a selection of our past coverage, a narrative about refugee life in San Diego.

• San Diego’s Refugee Brain Gain was both a story by Adrian Florido and a short photo project about some of the brilliant refugees in San Diego searching for work. The story is here and the slideshow is below.

This December 2009 interview with Bob Montgomery, executive director of the International Rescue Committee in San Diego, gives great background and context about our local refugee population.

• In that same month, we also profiled the Chinese Friendship Association, a Buddhist temple that provides services to hundreds of refugees in City Heights.

• Earlier this year, Florido revealed that some refugees were not receiving the government assistance to which they were entitled. From the sidebar to his story: “In recent months, refugee families have been living without income because San Diego County was inappropriately denying them access to cash aid to which they’re entitled.” We profiled Amaal Al-Mifraji, who was one of the people denied and is featured in the image below.

Please contact Sam Hodgson directly at sam.hodgson@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5664 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/samuelhodgson.

Sam Hodgson

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

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