One of the richest aspects of my life is being in a classroom. Working with kids I forget the walls, lose track of noises streaming in from outside. What I am aware of are the faces: faces filled with eagerness, curiosity, even the uncomprehending expressions; and I think, okay girl – start your engines - guide these young minds to the next level of understanding and success. In return young men and women consistently brighten, enlighten and challenge my view of the world and myself. This phenomenon has occurred from Chicago’s South Side to Denver to all five boroughs of NYC, but how did I discover teen voices across the world?
In 2005 my perceptions got a huge shake-up. I was moved by the life experiences of Harun, a Yugoslavian immigrant I met while working at Queens Academy High School. Harun’s open, direct honesty about the struggles he and his friends endured for safety, education and a voice in Yugoslavian society before Slobodan Milosovic lost power was riveting. As his Queens classmates listened to Harun’s original monologue they were awed and inspired by the resilience he illustrated and its resonance in their own lives. All this triggered a curiosity in me – to uncover how teens still living in troubled spots cope.
I began leading playwriting workshops in Palestine, Israel and Liberia. These amazing experiences brought me to the realization that even with 52% of the world’s population under the age of 21, teens remain misunderstood and underrepresented.
These experiences led me to create two documentaries and breaking walls . . .
breaking walls Outreach takes two forms:
Community Based –
Do you often sense that your students are slow to trust and quick to judge? Are you searching for a way to build an empathetic community while exploring issues of social unrest, intolerance, peer pressure and their life in a “virtual world”. Do you wish to build literacy, critical thinking and presentation skills? breaking wallsArts Education initiative is such an opportunity.
In September 2012 Marie Polinsky, Manhattan Borough GED+ Principal, approached me to screen my documentary bethlehem to brooklyn: breaking the surface for her students, and to lead a writing workshop based on the responses to this film. As her students finished the performance of their original writing Marie said, “When I hear my kids saying they came together as a team to make their writing into this play, I know this is the program for us.”
A breaking walls Arts Educationinitiative consists of two aspects:
· One (1) documentary screening with an accompanying pre-and-post screening questions and discussion.
· Eight (8) 45-55 minute in-class sessions of creative writing, assessment, creation of a Collage Play and presentation for a live audience of the original Collage Play.
We look forward to guiding your students in discovering their voice and offering a platform on which to use it. I invite you to review our bethlehem to brooklyn Trailer @ http://breakingwallsprogram.org/media/
I welcome the opportunity to meet with you and answer any questions you may have about this innovative initiative.
Speak Reach Peace Out will give voice to those who usually remain unheard yet possess a unique understanding of how the world is changing – concurrently creating international dialogue.
Coming-of-Age in your world where there’s little safety and less peace is no easy-going task. Amid the chaos you struggle for a sense of normalcy, control, and the ideals you believe are right. As you navigate towards the bright, happy futures you desire, your choices are sometimes inspirational, sometimes bad and scary, demonstrating that choice and activism define and shape individual lives. In a world rocked by devastation – tsunamis, armed conflagrations and under-recognized conflicts – you are rising above the challenges through friendship and communication in your quest for peace, tolerance and dignity.
It’s Time 4 U 2
B a Part of Speak Reach Peace Out www.srpoutmag.com