Acción Intercultural con Corazón
Intercultural Action with Heart
It all started…
from the lived experience of immigrant families at Scott and Rigler Elementary in the Cully neighborhood.
Through community conversations organized by AIC in collaboration with Leaven Community, a common narrative has emerged. Over time a significant number of children from immigrant families have been experiencing discrimination, bullying, and racism on the playground and in their classrooms.
When parents address the concern with school administrators or teachers, they are navigating a school system rooted in the culture of primary English speaking white Americans. In 2017, Spanish was the primary language of 28% - 148 students at Scott, and 32% - 140 students at Rigler. Differences in language, culture, and power have led many immigrant families to feel disempowered and afraid for their children's safety. Additionally, some families are afraid to speak up in fear of having the immigration status of a family member exposed.
Given these challenges, we aim to increase the number and diversity of families who are engaged in Central NE schools - first beginning with Scott and Rigler Elementary, but eventually reaching out to families from Beaumont Middle School and Madison High School. In order to accomplish this, Obra de teatro bilingue para justicia restaurativa en las escuelas will host four community events in 2019 in the community room at Luther Memorial Church to create a safe, empowering space for families to share their stories and work together for restorative justice responses at the schools.
Here is a clip of our January 7th Performance
At the gatherings, parents and students will interact with theatre that dramatizes an individual or family's story of discrimination and allows them to explore possible "next steps" for restorative justice responses. Because the stories are being performed by community actors, the stories of specific children and families are allowed to remain anonymous but still benefit from the support and engagement of the greater community. In order to maximize participation, the community gatherings will be bilingual (English/Spanish initially, but additional languages could be accommodated if needed) and food and childcare will be offered.
Secondarily, we aim to strengthen families' capacity for advocacy, communication, and restorative justice skills as we engage our school communities. Ultimately, we are working towards a powerful vision shared by all families and our schools: security and wellbeing for children and fair treatment for families, especially families who experience discrimination due to language and cultural difference.
Guided reflection on the theatre and group conversations will open up new possibilities for acting in our schools.
Sharing stories of injustice will bring greater awareness of the challenges some families face, increase empathy, and bring families together to look for ways to address concerns together using a restorative justice framework.
The gatherings will also build capacity by encouraging families to develop cross-cultural relationships that will strengthen the fabric of our schools and the greater Centre NE neighborhoods.
Shared meals and bilingual facilitation of meetings will foster relationships and power between parents who speak English and parents who speak Spanish so that we can act on things that matter to us, now and in the future.
Ultimately, we are working towards a powerful vision shared by all families and our schools: security and wellbeing for children and fair treatment for families, especially families who experience discrimination due to language and cultural difference.
AIC leaders currently gather at least twice a month to listen to experiences of discrimination, practice our theatre and restorative justice skills, and plan future actions. Each leader brings unique gifts; skills in theatre, contemplative practices, group facilitation, restorative justice, and language (Spanish, English and Mayan).