“That was the best language arts class ever!”
“I had a blast!”
“This was really fun and I hope to see this program again!”
“That was a great experience.”
“I learned so much about myself and my assumptions.”
“I loved the stories about kids my age.”
Migrating to a new country, learning a new language and assimilating to a new culture is never easy, but it happens every day in the United States. Most come to join family members or seek better employment opportunities. Still others come to this country to escape persecution. These individuals are known as refugees, and they have often faced tremendous hardships like genocide, religious and political persecution and war. They leave their native country in order to survive, and the journey they endure and the challenges they face in adapting to their new lives is often inspiring, but not always recognized nor understood by the communities they join.
The Museum’s Community Narratives Project, a collection of three-to-five-minute documentaries, bridge these gaps of understanding. The Changing Faces of the United States videos, our latest additions, feature the stories of Colorado immigrant and refugee youth who have been uprooted and resettled in our community from the former USSR, Uganda and Nicaragua. Each story engages viewers in the universality of how our journey to create new lives are interwoven and connected across time and place. They are the voices of young people living in our midst, whose families legally entered the United States as refugees. Their stories offer very personal insights into what it means to be a young refugee living in Colorado today. Many left family behind in their native country in order to come to a place “that would be safe, peaceful and full of opportunities,” as one young woman refugee expressed. While each story conveys a very different path of resettlement and integration, they all express a shared aspiration for a better future for themselves and their families in their adopted country, the United States of America.
In our new assembly and classroom presentation, Changing Faces of the United States, multi-talented art educator, recording artist, poet and hip-hop emcee, Adrian Molina, invites students to view the digital videos of these refugees, then look at their assumptions and perceptions about difference and acceptance. The program integrates the power of hip-hop and the spoken word in combination with these inspiring digital stories. Students also create a collective poem that gives voice to their hopes and understandings.