Voices Project Shares Refugee Stories
This year, the South Asia Center, the Syracuse City School
District (SCSD), and Tompkins Cortland Community College (TC3) collaborated to
engage New American students in the Syracuse City School District to tell their
stories through visual arts and the written word.
The South Asia Center partnered with 10 teachers from the
Syracuse City School District on a project that celebrated the stories and
experiences of students coming from refugee and New American families. The
Center worked with Susan Cerretani and Christina Stavenhagen-Helgren,
professors at Tompkins-Cortland Community College, to engage teachers in
techniques to help students communicate their narratives through both the
written word and the visual arts.
In undertaking this project, we hoped to help New American
students reclaim their identities through art. The project also encouraged
discussion among teachers about how to help New American students and their
peers better understand cultures, histories, and identities.
Seventy students from six schools participated, and their
work was collated into a book, called “Voices of New Americans 2019: An
Exploration of Narrative and Art in the Syracuse City School District.” The art
was also displayed at an end-of-year event.
Syracuse City School District includes over
3,000 students – 17% of the student population – who have come to the United
States as refugees. They include a large number of Bhutanese and Nepali
students. This project hopes to highlight and celebrate the myriad cultures of
refugees and New Americans and the richness they add to the local Syracuse