This series of comic strip workshops was designed for students of refugee-background enrolled in Karibu CLE, a soccer & arts therapy summer camp put together by The Refugee Response and Corner65 on the premises of the Thomas Jefferson International Newcomer's Academy.
In these workshops, we explored different culturally relevant graphic memoirs, discussed and tested the various art supplies and tools we can use to create our own comics, and explored different ways to tell our own migration stories, family stories, and personal stories as a means to process our experiences in creative and sustaining ways.
CULTURALLY SUSTAINING MENTORING, a reading group workshop for the Youth Mentoring Program at The Refugee Response, July 12, 2021.
Antiracist researchers and educators Gloria Ladson-Billings, Jeffrey Duncan-Andrade, Sonia Nieto, Django Paris and many others have argued that the formal U.S. educational system imposes monocultural and monolingual standards and expectations on an increasingly diverse body of students, exacerbating racial, linguistic, and socioeconomic inequities. They have developed a vision of education justice that shifts dominant educational norms, and invites educators to honor, value, and center the varied experiences, cultural practices, and multifaceted skills of students of color. This is variously called Culturally Responsive, Culturally Relevant, or Culturally Sustaining Teaching.
DISPLACEMENT: THE LITERATURE OF FORCED MIGRATION, a reading series for Literary Cleveland, April–June, 2020.
In this reading series, we explored works by three key contemporary authors—NoViolet Bulawayo, Mohsin Hamid, and Valeria Luiselli—about forced migration and engaged with diverse representations of refugees, asylum-seekers, and migrants. According to the United Nations, more than seventy million people are currently displaced worldwide due to war, persecution, and conflict. At the same time, we have witnessed the global rise of nationalist and xenophobic discourses that dehumanize and reject displaced populations. In the United States, we have seen dramatic changes in our policies affecting refugees and asylum-seekers in the past few years, with the rollback of asylum protections and the considerable lowering of the number of refugees to be admitted for resettlement. Contemporary literary authors have challenged these systems of exclusion by providing more complex depictions of forced migration journeys.
We focused primarily on using the language of poetry to convey moments of vulnerability we witnessed or experienced ourselves. Vulnerability is an abstract and ambiguous term which may carry different meanings for different people. Reflecting on our shared vulnerability (in the face of disease, climate catastrophes, wars and so on) is certainly a timely topic. Some of the questions we grappled with: Are we all vulnerable in the same ways? Are some of us more vulnerable than others? And can vulnerability be both a unifying and a divisive force?