Inclusive Storytelling: Community Reaction to Immigrant Youth Experiences in Atlanta
From 2016 to 2018, an interdisciplinary community-engaged project incorporating community-based participatory research methodology, explored how the role of storytelling is integral for the transference of knowledge, history, and sense of purpose. This is important not only for the storytellers but also for those who are impacted by stories they hear. Stories capture our attention, create emotional connections, and compel us to action. In an effort to inform—and possibly reshape—the public narratives regarding twenty-first-century immigration, we embarked on a multi-faceted immigrant storytelling university-community partnership that included both local stakeholders and a national nonprofit. The outcomes help us understand how the views of receiving communities change over time with respect to migrants through their own stories, thus impacting the work of immigrant-serving organizations, such as Georgia-based Welcoming America, a nonprofit committed to implementing a variety of initiatives to cultivate welcoming cities and welcoming regions. Our project gauges the impact of the 2018 publication, Green Card Youth Voices: Immigration Stories from an Atlanta High School. That effort documents stories of youth migrants about their journeys from their homelands to their experiences in receiving communities. This fourth collection in the Green Card Voices (GCV) youth book series, published by Minneapolis-based nonprofit Green Card Voices, features personal essays authored by high school-aged immigrants living in different US cities. The Atlanta-based book—the first from a southeastern city—features twenty-one immigrants from sixteen countries, as well as photographs, art, and videos. The project also involved the participation of over thirty students from Kennesaw State University who engaged with the project through a service-learning and community writing initiative. The applied outcomes from assessing the public’s responses to the project helped Green Card Voices expand their impact and development of other projects, including books, digital narratives, art exhibits, and public outreach. The aim is to scale-up these projects throughout the US to increase understanding about migrant experiences and acceptance of migrant communities more broadly through storytelling.
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