Samia Ejaz believes every immigrant has a story worth telling.
Bachelor of Medical Science student Samia is an immigrant to Australia and has created her digital art project, 50immigrants, as a way to share those stories.
“Interactions I was having with others from immigrant backgrounds always seemed to channel the same idea – they all had stories they wanted to tell,” Samia says.
“Whether it was to advocate against misrepresented cultural identities or to simply express the emotional toll of leaving their families and homelands behind, the people I spoke to struggled to find a suitable platform to tell their stories.”
Samia also has her own story to tell.
Born in Dubai to Pakistani parents, Samia grew up in a household with distinct cultural influences from the Middle East and South Asia.
When Samia arrived in Australia in 2016, she says she was exposed to an entirely new set of cultural and societal norms, which presented its own challenges.
“I have drawn a lot of comfort from the knowledge that I share this experience of cultural uncertainty with many people belonging to similarly multicultural backgrounds,” Samia says.
It is this sense of shared experience and belonging that is captured by the 50immigrants project.
Showcasing stories from both first- and second-generation immigrants, the blog features digital portraits created by Samia, accompanied by subjects’ personal anecdotes.
While Samia has always enjoyed making art in her spare time, she says she only started experimenting with digital portraits during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, around the same time she started hearing stories from other immigrants.
Samia saw the potential in digital art to represent the multifaceted reality of immigrants’ lived experiences, and to create a sense of belonging through diasporic connections.
“It became evident to me that not only did every immigrant have a story to tell, but they were also longing for a sense of community through a connection with those who have shared similar struggles. I wanted to build something that would create this sense of community,” Samia says.
Only a few short weeks after creating the blog, Samia says she feels honoured to have been able to share the immigrant stories of so many people.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating this blog. It has been immensely rewarding to see people understand and resonate with immigrant perspectives,” she says.
Samia is currently accepting submissions. To contribute to this growing mosaic of immigrant experiences, follow the blog on Instagram (@50immigrants) and send Samia a message to find out more.