July 17, 2018

Folklife focuses on new Americans for storytelling project

The Vermont Folklife Center of Middlebury is launching a digital storytelling initiative focused on young New Americans entitled “New American Voices.”

The goal is to address the needs of refugee youth in Vermont by providing resources, training and support for exploring their experiences through digital media. The need and interest for this project were identified by New American youth and guardians, community leaders, partner organizations and Vermont Folklife Center staff.

“We want to be part of the community, spread our culture and preserve it. But it’s not just about our community — we want everyone to know we are here,” said Bidur, a leader of youth programs in the Bhutanese-Nepali community,

The Folklife Center will use an ethnographic approach to engage the New American youth population — understanding experience from the point of view of those to whom the experience belongs. Project programming will include elements of oral history, interviewing, photography, filmmaking, community map-making, story circles and other explorations of identity, community and personal experience.

“You’re not alone, and you do matter,” said Somali Bantu youth leader Aden Haji. “That’s one of the biggest things that I’ve learned through my journey — knowing that you matter makes a difference. Because when you have the feeling that you matter, you want to be more involved, and you want to be more active in the community.”

For more information on the project and the center, visit vermontfolklifecenter.org or call 802-388-4964.

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