Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Voices of Migration: digital stories from refugee youth

As the Holocaust Center works in partnership with schools to combat bullying, a community screening of the Seattle Refugee Youth Project offers a new perspective of intolerance through the eyes of young refugees in Foster and Kent Meridian High School. On Saturday March 5 in Kane 120 at 1pm, 12 self-made stories will be screened for the public, followed by a dance performance by some of the Bhutanese students and a Q&A with all young refugees, moderated by UW mentors.

Among the audience at the community screening will be many of the teachers of the refugee storytellers, whom each student took the time to personally invite. Family members, case workers with the International Rescue Committee, churches, and community advocates in every capacity for the rights of forced migrants within the Sea-Tac area will also be in attendance. All 20 refugee youth will be present on stage at the screening, introducing their stories and the regions from which they come. The storytellers have been planning this event since October with the help of University of Washington mentors and are thrilled to be able to interact with residents of the Seattle area, who are interested enough to listen.

According to one of the Karen refugees from Burma, "We just want everyone to know how hard it is to be refugee in school. There are bullies and you can't talk to anyone about it. We try very hard. Our parents try very hard, but we just want them to know our feelings." The event promises to be an outlet both for the storytellers themselves and their families, by airing a new voice in the Seattle community. Having as many teachers present as possible would fulfill one of the primary goals of the event, as specified by the storytellers, "to make people in schools know about what it's like to have to leave your home, language, culture, your family...know how it feel." The storytellers come from Eritrea, Burma, Russia, and Bhutan and have spent only 1-3 years in the United States. Diverse as their stories may be, they are united in the common purpose of sharing and the common experience of forced migration. Seattle educators, students, and case workers stand to learn much about the present-day manifestations of intolerance through the eyes of some of its newest and most vulnerable residents, who are resilient and excited to embark on the new opportunities available to them in the United States.

For more information, check out the facebook page:!/event.php?eid=189715497715842. There will be a link to a January KCTS9 program, which features the Seattle Refugee Youth Project. The event is sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Center for Global Studies at the University of Washington and the Center for Digital Storytelling. The Holocaust Center is an in-kind donor. Contact Kelly Miller at with questions.

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