Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Word Journeys, an afterschool program

One of the things I get to do in my new job is to help with the special programming that my library is involved with. Many of these programs are targeted to specific populations, and so are not always visible to the community. Word Journeys is one of those programs.

Word Journeys is an arts and humanities afterschool program taught by the inimitable Marge Pellegrino, and run in conjunction with the Amphitheater School District. Every Thursday this school year, Marge helped teens from Amphi High School put on a multidisciplinary program for children from two area elementary schools. Three of the teen mentors and half of the younger children are recent immigrants to Tucson: Bantu refugees from Somalia.

The teens plan and setup the weekly workshops, encourage the younger students, model listening and participatory behaviors, journal, and reflect upon the week's experience. Each workshop includes a story, a writing springboard, and time for sharing, as well as time for mentors and mentees to explore the library via books and targeted activities. The photo on the left is from this year's big celebration for which the children created displays of their writing and artwork, and took turns reading from their favorite project. I have more photos on my library's Flickr account.

Much of the intensity of Word Journeys comes from the long-term relationships that this program fosters, along with projects designed to elicit heartfelt responses to the eternal questions of humanity: How do I have compassion for others? Who am I in the world?, and How can I make the world a better place?

I love my job.

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