Student project uncovers migrant stories
Project and exhibit in downtown studio captures interviews and photographs of 32 immigrants and their journeys
Forty five students across two classes at Paso Robles High School, CA are showcasing stories and large format photographs of persons who have migrated to Paso Robles from other countries after a seven week project now on exhibit at Studios on the Park. Participants, ranging in age from 15 through 57, shared their experiences immigrating from Mexico, Thailand, China, Brazil, the Philippines, Nigeria, El Salvador, and Vietnam.
Students interviewed and photographed the immigrants above in a seven week project needing Google apps, voice recordings, camera equipment, and meetings in libraries or Starbucks shops.
“Some are English learners in classes at Cuesta College’s County Campus, some are relatives or neighbors of students, and a few are students themselves. Some have already established themselves in the community,two are teachers in the school district, and one arrived this past April,” according to a Geof Land, Social Studies teacher at PRHS.
Students realized early they were onto something big.
“I was not fully aware of the great depth of sacrifice and the immense sorrow people face to come here,” ninth grade journalist Natalia Bogdan wrote. “This is an opportunity to tell the truth about immigrants, and their stories of leaving family, often escaping grinding poverty and dangerous violence, to start over in a new country.”
The project spawned from teacher Geof Land’s grade 10 unit on world migrations. He joined forces with journalism teacher Jeff Mount and 30 first year journalism students to interview and photograph the 32 participants. Most of the interviews and communications occurred in Spanish.
Students were hearing from Mexico within days of the release that family and friends were viewing and respecting their work.
The exhibition runs at Studios on the Park through the end of June. Students, teachers, project participants and parents will be on hand Opening Night May 20, 2016 at 5 p.m.