National Writing Project

Teacher-Leader from Boise State Writing Project Tells Refugee Stories Through Poetry, Performance

Publication: Holocaust Educators Network blog
Date: August 15, 2015

Summary: Diane Williams, a Boise State Writing Project teacher-leader, helps bridge the gap between refugee students and their middle school peers through her Story, Humanity, Home – More Than Words project, bringing them together in collaboration on poetry and performance.

 

Excerpt from Article

As the project's first step, Anser students studied the plight of each refugee group and read accounts of refugees and the struggles they face. The Agency for New Americans provided sensitivity and trauma training to ready them for their interactions and interviews with the refugee students. It was a solid beginning, but many hurdles lay ahead, especially the language barrier. Most of the Hillside students had only been in the U.S. for a few months. Still, the two groups kept at it, communicating through the arts and technology, and eventually, through words.

Though she has been teaching more than 21 years, Diane says proudly, 'I have never seen students persevere through such challenges to make something work.'

Hillside students came to Anser each Thursday to share stories and break down cultural barriers, forming inseparable bonds while crafting moving poetry that reflects the refugees' experiences. Diane recalls that 'everyone knew the project was necessary, but no one knew we would be creating such a powerful experience for so many people."

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