Best of the Week 2021-2022: Excellence in College Prep


IB FILM STUDENTS HIGHLIGHT MIGRANT REFUGEES' STORIES IN CAPTIVATING PORTRAIT PROJECT

IB SL Visual Art students (Ian Fairfield '22, Jayson Morris '22, John Kutney '22, Kaobimdi Ugwu '23, Ryan Steckle '22 and Van Weinmann '23) have been working on portrait projects in association with Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services, allowing them to learn and listen to the stories of migrant refugees in Cleveland. After setting up initial interviews to meet their partners from Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, and El Salvador, students were able to form deeper connections with their partners and learn how to best share their stories through photography, capturing their migrant journeys, dreams, struggles, and aspirations in snapshots.

"Working with students to understand our Biblical call to welcome the stranger is really important to me personally, and fits neatly with both our Holy Cross value of hospitality and the IB mission," says Film Department Chair Lydia Munnell. "In teaching any art class, I value the chance to find experiences that teach students to use their developing skills to help amplify the voices and stories of other people. Our students received training from Catholic Charities on migration and refugee terminology and processes so they would know how to best ask questions in a trauma-informed way, and how to conduct a conversation through an interpreter."

"I had a great time with my partner, Mohammed. He is so optimistic about being in America and what he can do here. He wore a USA hat and referred to America as the 'land of opportunity' multiple times," says Van. "He plans on going to university and studying aeronautical engineering after being granted asylum. He has faced a lot of adversity on his journey from Sudan, but has persevered and I hope to tell part of his story with my photographs."

On Monday, students welcomed their guests to St. Ed's to take a series of photographs, which will become large portrait prints that will be permanently displayed at Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services and gifted to each migrant partner. "For us, this project allows students to listen and represent narratives outside their own experiences, and for Catholic Charities, the displayed portraits allow clients from all over the world the chance to enter a space and see themselves and their communities celebrated," says Ms. Munnell.