Ali Lapetina

Documentary Photographer
Rohingya in Chicago
Location: Detroit, Michigan
Nationality: American
Biography: Ali Lapetina is a documentary photographer and educator based in Detroit, Michigan. With a sensitive approach and long term dedication, her personal work explores stories of immigrant and underrepresented communities navigating daily life in... read on

The Rohingya people are desperately escaping Myanmar, the country where they have faced persecution for generations. The situation now borders on genocide and more than 700,000 have fled just in the past few months. Though the refugees are mostly in camps in neighboring Bangladesh, they have also been trickling into the United States in recent years. About 400 families have settled in Rogers Park on Chicago’s North Side, one of the country’s largest concentrations of Rohingya.

I wanted to photograph their quest to assimilate into American life while staying true to the traditions of their home country and Islam.  When I visited Rogers Park, the people I met told me that the comfort of the tight community of Rohingya and other immigrants was helping them rebuild their lives. Shared experiences have brought the community particularly close.

The story was originally published in The New York Times, October 2017.