"We Iraqis have long stories" said a participant in BuildaBridge's therapeutic arts group for Iraqi families living in Northeast Philadelphia. This group, comprised of Iraqi mothers and children who have lived in the U.S. for over three years, will be focusing their efforts this Fall on telling their stories through a group made tapestry. Operationally, a tapestry is a single composition which is comprised of many threads. Conceptually, a tapestry displays a meaningful moment in time that is a symbol and a distillation of many smaller experiences and moments. In addition, many people with unique lives and backgrounds come together to form one community. The group will keep this metaphor - the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, at the forefront of their art experiences to create the piece. Since October, 28 participants have attended three groups. Over the next few weeks, participants and BuildaBridge artists will create story-based pieces about their families, their generation, and then their group/community histories.
Also during this Fall term BuildaBridge is providing the Burmese Chin and Burmese Karen communities therapeutic arts groups in South Philadelphia. BuildaBridge's efforts with the Bhutanese children have phased out as many of them are feeling more socially connected after living in Philadelphia for over four years now. BuildaBridge has thus re-focused efforts on the Burmese communities who are still arriving in relatively high numbers to the Philadelphia region. These groups have served 32 participants so far this Fall.
Another new project was launched at Southwark School in South Philadelphia. This school has a wide diversity of students from over 10 countries including many of the Bhutanese and Burmese refugees with whom BuildaBridge works. Southwark invited BuildaBridge to create a mural that represents the diversity of their students and to use the school's main quote "We honor the greatness in you." See the mural in process below and stay tuned for more Fall program updates!