Seeking Refuge: How Stories Can Save Us
History & Culture

Presented in partnership with Charlotte Writers' Club and EVERY CAMPUS A REFUGE, this panel delves into the power of story in the lives of refugees, with personal insights from the lives and experiences of the esteemed panelists.


Diya Abdo – Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing, Guilford College, Greensboro, NC. A second-generation Palestinian refugee Founder of ECAR, Every Campus a Refuge; Finalist for numerous awards including the Arab Hope Makers Award in Dubai, and the national 2019 Ehrlich Civically Engaged Faculty Award for service-learning and civic engagement  

Joseph Bathanti – Former Poet Laureate, 2012-2014; Recipient of the 2016 North Carolina Award in Literature; Professor of Creative Writing and McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor of Interdisciplinary Education & Writer-in-Residence of Appalachian State University’s Watauga Residential College; The 2016 Charles George VA Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville, NC; The co-founder of the Medical Center’s Creative Writing Program; Bathanti has 18 Award Winning Publications of Poetry, Non-Fiction and Novels.

Banu Valladares – Executive Director at Charlotte Bilingual Preschool; former: N.C. Humanities Council, N.C. Arts Council, Program Director for Literature, community arts organizations. Valladares represents the interests of Charlotte’s Latinx families informing early childhood education policies on the Mecklenburg County Early Learning Initiative Executive Committee. Her experience includes capacity-building support to community-based African American, Asian American, Latinx, and American Indian cultural arts organizations. Valladares moved to Charlotte from Venezuela.

Moderator: Gilda Morina Syverson – Author, Poet Artist, Educator and Speaker was born in a large Italian-American family. Syverson has taught Memoir Writing for 20 years, 15 years at Queens University. She’s also taught at Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte Lit, as well as numerous Memoir workshops and private classes throughout the region and beyond. Syverson’s publications include an award-winning memoir, two poetry books and numerous individual publications. She has exhibited regionally, nationally and internationally.


  • Mon. March 30 at 2:30PM