Advocacy Through Storytelling

 Mohawk Valley Community College
IT-225 w 1101 Sherman Dr, Utica NY
1:00pm – 4:00pm

Free to the Public

MVCC Students will receive a DGV Credit for attending this conference.

This project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by CNY Arts.

The theme for the 2014 UNSPOKEN Conference is Advocacy Through Storytelling.  The simple power of storytelling can influence people and organizations as well as help to change lives for the better.  There are a multitude of ways to tell a story. It can be written, spoken, told through photographs, video, or film.  There will be there presenters to discuss how advocacy can be achieved through a variety of storytelling media.

Snapshots of Resettlement

Refugees’ stories often include accounts of where they used to live, descriptions of the conflict, and the details of the journey that was taken to lead them to their new homes in a third country. The “Refugees Starting Over in Utica, NY,” project has used different media such as film, an art exhibit, lectures, photographs, social media, websites, and ethnographic research to help tell the stories of our refugee neighbors in Utica, NY. The author will focus on a new project called, “Snapshots of Resettlement,” and explain some of the behind the scenes activities that took place in order to complete the web-enhanced version of some refugees’ stories.

Kathryn R. Stam, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the SUNY Institute of Technology in Utica, New York. She is the Coordinator of the online Master’s Program in Information Design and Technology and she teaches undergraduate anthropology. Her specialties are cross-cultural communication, ethnography, Thai and Lao studies, and information technology. She speaks Thai, Lao, and some Nepali. As an advisor for the student group, “American and Refugee Students for Closer Connection,” she helps to organize activities for new refugees and local students to share their cultures and to ease the transition to American life for the new arrivals. Kathryn is a member of the Board of Directors of the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees (MVRCR), where she is also a volunteer and a Thai/Lao interpreter for COMPASS Interpreters. She and Kathryn Reilly co-founded, “Refugees Starting Over in Utica, NY,” a SUNYIT-based collaborative project which brings students and community members together through events, exhibits, film, social media, field trips, and volunteer work (www.

Burkina Faso Clean Water Project

Freelance photographer & producer Simon Eisenbach will use photography and video to tell the story of the Burkina Faso Clean Water Project.  Simon specializes in both the commercial and humanitarian fields and has worked on four continents over the past three years.  During this time he began to focus on the clean water provision efforts taking place in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Simon has gone on three trips to document various aspects of work being done in 2013 and 2014.

 The Newcomer Program

The Newcomer Program (NCP) serves students ages 17-20 identified as English Language Learners. The program was created in 2007 to address the gap in educational programs offered to this age group within the Utica City School District. New York State certified ESOL instructors led the program, providing intensive instruction for up to 60 students of varied levels of English proficiency. Students eventually enrolled in Mohawk Valley Community College or completed their GED and went to work. It was a great success, by all accounts.

Unfortunately, severe budget constraints forced the UCSD to drop the program in summer of 2013. The Office for New Americans, through Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, took over the NCP in July 2013, but could only provide one instructor. Thus, the students were split between the Newcomer Program and the Adult Literacy Center. Students aged 17-19 attend the Newcomer Program and the 20 year old students attend the Adult Learning Center.

Dana Hubbard, the Administrator of the Newcomer Program and the Project Coordinator of the Office for New Americans will present the story of the successes and struggles of these children and their journey to obtaining an education in their new country.