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UAFS campus decorated in thousands of cranes in support of APPI community

The UAFS display is a physical response to increased incidents of anti-Asian violence since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

FORT SMITH, Ark — Thousands of delicate paper cranes are on display at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith's Smith Pendergraft Campus Center. 

The display was created through the collaborative work between Arvest Bank and the UAFS Art Department as a physical response to increased incidents of anti-Asian violence since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Arvest formed Associate Impact Groups (AIG), which provide associates an avenue to share perspectives, ideas and solutions to enhance the associate and customer experience.

The group is responsible for creating more the 2,000 paper cranes consists of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and their allies. 

The display was inspired by the legend popularized by Sodako Sasaki, a World War II atomic bombing victim, these AGIs issued a company-wide call to support the 1,000 Cranes initiative. Employees folded papers of varying sizes, colors, and patterns into cranes which collectively were created as a sign of solidarity against acts of hate towards Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and all marginalized groups.

More than 2,000 paper cranes are now on display at the Campus Center as a result of this call, created by Arvest associates from across the bank’s four-state footprint.

“On behalf all the members of our Associate Impact Group, we want to thank all the associates who sent in their cranes to support this cause,” said Gabriel Saysombath, a marketing specialist for Arvest in Fort Smith. “I am excited about the partnership we have made with the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith to create an art exhibit highlighting the collective efforts of our teammates.”

The Arvest team created the idea and shared it with UAFS, where Art students and department leaders designed the functional, immersive display and hung the cranes earlier this semester.

“We were honored that Arvest chose to share the Cranes of Solidarity project with us,” said Katie Waugh, Art Department Head at UAFS. “It has presented students an opportunity to use their skills in artmaking, creative thinking, and logistics to help visualize this crucial message of support for the AAPI community, and share that message with the public.” 

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