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Balik Kampung - A Village Return - The Opening Reception

Balik Kampung: A Village Return

A Mixed-Media Art Installation

 NORTH ANDOVER August 16, 2019, 4 to 6 PM        An opening reception at Merrimack College’s Rogers Center for the Arts, Thagaste Gallery, launches Balik Kampung - A Village Return, a mixed-media art installation. Join us in exploring the life-long, cross-cultural, love affair between Andover resident and Merrimack College alumna, Emily Kearns, and her Malaysian host family, with whom she lived for one year as an American Field Service (AFS) foreign exchange student in 1977. 

Their special relationship is brought to life through photos, film, collage, and storytelling. The installation celebrates the power of cross-cultural experience to impact our lives and generations to come. It invites and incites us to consider and remember the universality of our human experience.

Through this poignant mixed-media rendering, you will experience the richness of a love cultivated over 40 years between a then, 16-year-old Catholic American girl and an extended Muslim, Malay family, who opened their hearts and home as they lived together in a Malay village.  Emily recently returned to the village in July 2018 and ethnographically celebrated and filmed their love and gratitude through whole-family, multi-generational storytelling, feasting, and more.  Running August 16 through September 2019.  To learn more, visit or email