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Spotlights | Featured | Arts and SciencesOctober 09, 2021

Students Display Arvest-Made Paper Cranes in Support of AAPI Community

A colorful reminder of hope and resilience in the form of thousands of delicate paper cranes is on display at the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith’s Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center. It is the result of a collaborative effort between Arvest Bank associates and the UAFS Art Department to create a physical response to increased incidents of anti-Asian violence since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.


As part of its ongoing efforts to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, Arvest has formed Associate Impact Groups. The groups provide associates an avenue to collectively share perspectives, ideas, and solutions to enhance the associate and customer experience.

The group responsible for creating the cranes consists of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders, and their allies. Inspired by the legend popularized by Sodako Sasaki, a victim of the atomic bombing during World War II, these associates issued a company-wide call to support their 1,000 Cranes initiative. Employees folded cranes of varying sizes, colors, and patterns. These cranes 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 as a result of this call, created by 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. “It was very inspiring to see the cranes being delivered each week from all of our associates. 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.”

Though the initiative was entirely conceptualized by the Arvest team, when the idea was shared with UAFS, the university was thrilled to offer the entire community a chance to view the project, displaying at the Campus Center for public view. 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.” 

Media Relations

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Rachel Rodemann Putman

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