Kirsta Niemie-Benedetti lives and works in Columbus. She started her degree at Maryland Institute College of Art, took a year off to live in India, and finished up her Bachelors of Fine Arts at Columbus College of Art and Design with a focus in painting and installation art.
Stories are valuable both to the teller and the hearer. Through storytelling, the teller has an opportunity to feel known and valued and the hearer receives several gifts from that interaction: more knowledge, understanding, and most importantly, connection. Storytelling is a way to invite connection between people and build empathy through a new perspective. New Americans (NAs) (immigrants and refugees) that have come to live in the United States face immense barriers in their integration including but not limited to: language barriers, development of social networks, and access to support programs and resources (Ohio’s New Americans, 2018). Further, given the structural issues such as exclusionary policies, they face, they are often seen as the "others". The strength of a community is in the diversity and connection amongst its residents. However, connecting with those that are different than oneself does not come easily. Storytelling is inherently a collaborative process; how we come to know what we know is always in relation to others and the world. Storytelling can help to bridge the differences and provide an opportunity for connection and community people.