Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Stories of Migrant Youth

On October 7, 2015 County Executive Leggett and MCPL Director Hamilton joined students from Sherwood High School and their teachers for a special ceremony celebrating the opening of a new exhibit, Stories of Migrant Youth, at Silver Spring Library and to honor the students whose work forms the exhibit.

At the ceremony, County Executive Leggett discussed a recent study by Wallet Hub that named Gaithersburg, Silver Spring, Rockville, and Germantown as among the top ten ethno-racially diverse cities in the country. He continued by explaining how multiculturalism is part of everyday life in Montgomery County. Mr. Leggett described his recent experience with two cultural celebrations taking place in Silver Spring on the same day. "One might look at this and say, this is, in fact, the exception,” he told the audience. “It is not an exception: it is the usual thing that you see in Montgomery County."

Turning the spotlight to the works of these students, Mr. Leggett said, "We need to tell the story of how we got here... This helps us to do that." The display consists of books created by English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students at Sherwood High School that tell the story of their journeys from their home countries and the new lives they have built in Montgomery County. The students come from around the world, with the largest contingent coming from Central America.

The students whose works are included in the display were among thirty who participated in a community outreach program with the Sandy Spring Museum in the fall of 2014. During the program, they learned bookbinding skills, participated in trauma-informed informal art therapy sessions, and created the highly personal narratives that form the exhibit.

Video from the event is available on the Montgomery County Public Schools website. The video includes interviews with some of the participating students, Sherwood High School ESOL teacher Aileen Coogan, and artist Beatriz del Olmo who worked with the students on the project.

The books will be on visible in the display case on the first floor of the Silver Spring Library through November 15. Stop by to see this moving and powerful exhibit today. The ceremony and exhibit are sponsored by the Office of Community Partnerships, Montgomery County Public Libraries, CASA de Maryland, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce—Montgomery County, and the County Executive’s Latin American Advisory Group.

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