|Juma, Akbar, and Artist Rick Shaefer (Refugee Trilogy)|
Earlier this summer, CWP-Fairfield was contacted for possible collaboration and the suggestion was made that teachers and young people might write and record stories and thoughts inspired by Refugee Trilogy, the work of Rick Shaefer. Many who participated in the project have only been in the United States for a few months. With the teaching expertise of William King and Jessica Baldizon, students thought critically about Shaefer's drawings and how the drawings communicated . In summary, over 40 essays, poems, raps, and narratives were recorded. From the recordings, "snapshots" were taken to coincide with pieces in the exhibit, including several sketches of Refugee Trilogy in all of its phases.
Fairfield University Art Museum acted as liaison for the project and printed up miniature versions of the trilogy so teachers and students could think about the work over the summer. Through conversations, critical thinking activities, and workshopping, the teachers and youth finished their work before heading back to school.
Soundbites from the collaboration (and images from the exhibit) can be found online at:
The young people who participated are from Bangladesh, Equador, Haiti, Congo, Sudan, Tanzania, Guatemala, and other locations. Jessica Baldizon is a teacher at Cesar Batalla and William King works with immigrant and refugee youth at Bassick High School. The teachers who participated work at schools all over the region: urban, rural, suburban, private and public.
I will definitely visit the exhibit more this month to celebrate Rick Shaefer's storytelling. It has been a tremendous pleasure to meet him, to work with him, and to have his talent act as catalyst for so many of us at CWP-Fairfield. The collaboration has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I'm very grateful to Rick Shaefer, Carey Mack Weber, the teachers, and the young people for being wonderful with one another.