Images from 2010–2011
This photojournal was developed by Jordan Frank and David Kang, GIL Intern's at the New American Center, an afterschool program for refugee youth.
Community has always been a challenge at the New American Center. We have students ranging from ages 12–20, from different cultures, different schools and different religions. So we pulled in the experience of the La Vida Staff to help us organize a ropes course day after a sleepover at Gordon April 15-16. The Friday night prior to our 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Saturday on the Ropes Course, we were inspired by the community in the movie Freedom Writers in Barrington Cinema at Gordon. The next day, the La Vida staff did an absolutely outstanding job of never letting that spirit of community die down. Friendships were formed, cliques were broken, deep-ish conversations, no one got lost in the woods, and everyone had a blast.
(Most of our time at the NAC is spent indoors doing home-work, so it was great to enjoy playing outside with them. Some of the kids even recognized the games we had them play as a similar game from their home country.) This semester we have thought deeply about the difficulty in growing up in a rural setting (in countries like Iraq Somalia, Sudan and Nepal) and now being thrust into an urban atmosphere with very little mobility. Our hope for this weekend at Gordon was that the kids would feel at home with us and each other and just have some space to have fun. As you can see by the fun the kids are having in this jumping game, our hope was realized.
Not only did we have a lot of fun as a community, but there was a great amount of individual growth as well. Most of the kids challenged themselves and walked across bridges such as this one 20–50 feet in the air!
One thing that all the New American Center kids have in common is they love to dance! Anytime someone brings a set of speakers, at least 10 kids are always huddled around it to try and get their music played. So one can only imagine how crazy it would become if someone brought a huge set of speakers along with a sound system and some microphones! Well, that's pretty much how it was during the dance party at the NAC sleepover at Gordon. The kids had a great time sharing their music and dancing along to it. We had all kinds of music, ranging from current hip hop music to Indian pop music. And not to forget, our very own DJ Mohamed, who added some "Yea"s and "Check it"s here and there.
Despite the chilly November weather, an NAC sleepover wouldn't be an NAC sleepover without the bonfire. All of the NAC kids are crazy about bonfires and s'mores. And we also had a guitar playing in the background. Mostly it was just Dave Kyi trying to woo the girls by singing some Cambodian love songs.