NewsLocal NewsHispanic Heritage Month


Artists, poets in KCMO from different countries share what it means to be 'in exile,' find a home

Pedro Molina
Posted at 9:39 PM, Sep 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-14 23:34:34-04

VOICE FOR EVERYONE | Share your voice with KSHB 41’s Alyssa Jackson

Ahead of the start of Hispanic Heritage Month on Friday, KSHB 41 News heard from those forced to leave their native-countries and start over.

Artists and poets told their stories at an event called "Returning to the Root" hosted by “A Nation in Exile."

Three people, all from different countries, have something in common — finding belonging.

"I'm a first generation American — Haitian and Cuban. For a long part of my life, I didn't feel like I could call myself Cuban, because I'm Black," said Melissa Ferrer Civil, who organized the event. "That invalidation and impostor syndrome."

Pedro Molina, a journalist and cartoonist, said it his native country is something he'll always keep close to him.

"It doesn't matter how long you've been out of your country, the idea you're not from the place you're in now never leaves you," Molina said. "It doesn't matter how much you suffer in your home country, the good things there have more value."

Pedro Molina
Pedro Molina, a journalist and cartoonist from Nicaragua, sits on the floor surrounded by his art work.

As a poet from Colombia, Jose' Faus, came to America at 9 years old.

"At first, I thought, am I in exile? Technically, I'm not," Faus said. "It's not defined in that way, but I've always felt a stranger in a strange land."

He has written two books and read a poem called "Tango" from his book "The Life and Times of Jose' Calderon."

A Nation in Exile: Returning to the Root
Jose' Faus holding his second poetry book "The Life and Times of Jose' Calderon".

"That last line talks about exile and that longing for something that's different than what you knew as a child," Faus said.

The poet was forced out of one culture only to have to adjust to another.

"Color for a lot of immigrants coming from a multicultural country, I didn’t know color was a thing honestly," he said. "I didn't realize [being] brown was something that made you stand out."

Molina is a journalist who immigrated from Nicaragua and his cartoons speak louder than anything he can write on paper.

Pedro Molina
Pedro Molina writes: "Sometime later, we got more news. The war in my country was over and we could go back. So YES! When PEACE and DEMOCRACY RETURNED TO MY COUNTRY, MY FAMILY AND I COULD ALSO RETURN."

"It's disappointing to find out between my first and second exile, 30 years passed and very little changed," Molina said. "It's a challenge to keep hope for yourself and give it to other people who are still in Nicaragua and want a free country."

Bringing them all together is the idea that being exiled doesn't mean you can't find home.

"You are not alone. The hard things you've been forced to're not the only one going through that kind of stuff," Molina said.

Event organizers will donate all the proceeds from tonight’s event to Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation.