High school work gets college applause
The work of 45 students across two PRHS classes is now on display on the Cal Poly campus celebrating the stories and large format photographs of persons who have migrated to Paso Robles from other countries. The seven week project features participants, ranging in age from 15 through 57, who shared their experiences immigrating from Mexico, Thailand, China, Brazil, the Philippines, Nigeria, El Salvador, and Vietnam.
Three Cal Poly departments are pursuing exhibitions of the project which is offered in both print and online media. The project is currently on display in the Cal Poly Department of Modern Languages Learning Center. The Graduate School of Education plans to display the exhibition for the entire 2017 academic year. Cal Poly’s program for undocumented students has expressed an interest in showcasing the exhibition as a way to educate about the complexities of the immigrant experience on the Central Coast.
The Passage to Paso/Paso a Paso exhibition was shown this past summer at an art gallery in downtown Paso Robles, Studios on the Park, and community interest spiked. The exhibition and website were used in an upper level Spanish class that focused on cultural pluralism and immigration, according to Geof Land, Social Studies teacher at PRHS and co adviser of the project.
Students interviewed and photographed the immigrants above 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 Land.
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 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.