A few weeks ago a delegation of professionals, public officials and volunteers from Germany descended on Boise, the capital of Idaho. Their goal: to learn how the predominantly white city of 216,000 integrates refugees. In 2015, nearly 700 people were relocated to Boise from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Over 300 more resettled in the nearby town of Twin Falls, placing Idaho in the top five most welcoming states for refugees. And though that might not sound like much compared to the one million refugees who crossed into Germany last year (the US has a cap at 70,000 people per year), Idaho is among the states with the largest number of refugees relative to overall population. Photographer Angie Smith had been noticing the changing demographics of Boise on her yearly visits to her relatives. She started documenting the refugees’ stories shortly before the migrant crisis escalated in Europe. Now, she’s raising funds to turn her project “Stronger Shines the Light Inside” into an outdoor exhibition. She joined R&K from Boise.
Roads & Kingdoms: What is your impression of Boise as a city?
Angie Smith: Idaho is a beautiful state, it has the Rocky Mountains and lakes and rivers, and Boise is a really nice city with lots of trees and a river that runs through town. It has old craftsman houses everywhere and lots of families. Everything is very family-friendly. People are kind, they are really active in trying to make their community better, and it’s the perfect place to build a foundation for this project. If I start taking it to other resettlement cities, I won’t have the same support system there, but at least I will have figured out my routine and how to get great pictures and great interviews.