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New Exhibit Connects Visitors to their Immigrant Roots

Dayton Metro Library visitors can celebrate Dayton's rich cultural diversity, and connect with their own immigration story too, at a new exhibit called Trace Your Roots. This original exhibit features interactive stations where visitors can virtually follow a refugee’s difficult journey, experiment with language translation, test their knowledge of U.S. civics, or compose global music using digital "instruments" from around the world.

The exhibit is on display at the Southeast Branch Library, 21 Watervliet Avenue, through September 30. It moves to the Vandalia Branch Library, October 16 - November 23, and will travel to the Main Library and other Branch locations in the coming year.

The exhibit is self-guided. Visitors can view at their own pace, in any order, different interactive stations:

Two Billion Miles
Explore a refugee’s a long, hard journey as you navigate through a series of choices. Read about various elements of the journey by touching the “What is this?” section of the screen. How would you say goodbye to your homeland if you wanted (or were forced) to leave?

World Languages Station
Experiment with language translation technology. Use a camera to hover over words and watch as they are translated instantly into the language you choose. Discover the popular, online language learning programs available free at the Library’s website.

Civics Station
How much do you know about U.S. government, history, and civics? Take a Practice Citizenship Test used by aspiring U.S. citizens who are preparing for their naturalization interviews.

Music Station
A sound board allows you to choose the sounds of digital “instruments” from around the world. Blend the sounds together to create your own melody. A filter, mixer and effects section allows you to alter the music you create.

Additional information at the Trace Your Roots exhibit includes:

  • Library tools for free, online family history research
  • Nostalgic recipes from local churches, restaurants, and notable Daytonians, compiled from books in the Library’s Dayton History Collection
  • Lists of non-English language books, fiction and nonfiction immigration stories

A Guide to Ethnic Dining, Markets & Food Trucks was created as a companion piece to the Trace Your Roots exhibit, for anyone wanting to explore the many ethnic and independent eateries in the area.

“Trace Your Roots was the impetus for Welcome Dayton, Ethnosh Dayton, and the Collaboratory to work together to create a comprehensive ethnic dining guide for our region,” said Diane Farrell, Library Director of External Relations and Development. “It’s amazing the variety of ethnic dining options there are so close to home. You can let your taste buds sample the world without ever leaving Montgomery County.”

The guide includes maps to locate all of the listed restaurants and markets, which are arranged by geographic region:

  • African & Caribbean
  • Asian: East & Southeast
  • Asian: South
  • European
  • Latin & South America
  • Mediterranean & Middle Eastern

Trace Your Roots is an extension of the Dayton Metro Library’s enhanced services for new Americans.

“Everyone needs access to information, but we recognize that immigrants, international students, and other non-native English speakers have specific needs we can address,” said Rachel Gut, Deputy Executive Director for the Library. “Working with our partners, the Library provides assistance with things like housing, citizenship, language acquisition, and enrolling children in school.”

English language Talk Tables are offered at the Main Library and several branches, where non-native English speakers can practice their conversation skills with trained volunteers in a friendly, casual atmosphere.

The Trace Your Roots exhibit was made possible by a grant from The Dayton Foundation.

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