Araçuaí, Brazil Documentary Film
Cultural Studies student Angelica Macklin began production on a collaborative documentary film in Brazil as part of her final capstone research project. The film investigates how certain members of the community of Araçuaí have historically organized citizens toward civic engagement and how their work laid the foundation for the social and political change between 1960 and 2009. The project seeks to understand how and where education, artisan production, and civic engagement intersect, and the role that every-day people play in cultural production, consciousness building, and identity changing politics. This documentary will highlight the early liberation work of Frei Xico, who was appointed by the Catholic Church as cleric of the town between 1969 and 1989, Maria Lira, an artist, researcher and founder of the Araçuaí Workers Party in 1983, and Geralda Soares, an activist who works primarily with indigenous movements around Araçuaí concerning issues of land rights and sustainability. The film will follow their roles and actions in the 1980s and 1990s that led to the election of Worker Party Mayor Caca-Maria do Carmo Ferreira da Silva in 1997. She was the first female mayor and first Black mayor of the town and played a significant role in policy reform. She was also instrumental in bringing in Tiao Rocha, director of the Center for Popular Culture and Development, who has spent the past few years developing the town’s public education system, agricultural projects, and economic growth.
Imagine Children's Museum
Cultural Studies student Faith Simonelli began volunteering at Imagine Children's Museum in October 2008. Located in Everett, WA, Imagine Children's Museum features a playful learning environment through a variety of exhibits and activities for children and families.
In Summer 2009, Faith was invited to evaluate the museum’s summer enrichment program for Hispanic/Latino children. Called “Imaginate,” the program targets bilingual children with the goal of increasing their sense of belonging to the community as well as their English language retention over the summer.
Through the Cultural Studies program, Faith received training in various research methodologies. She immersed herself in the three-week day camp program, and her activities involved participatory observation and surveying “campers,” their parents, and elementary school educators. Faith is in the process of analyzing the data and hopes her findings will broaden dialogue around the needs of bi-lingual children while enhancing the museum’s cultural programming. The experience confirmed Faith’s commitment to elevating the needs of minority communities and solidified her desire to pursue a career addressing local diversity issues. In addition to her work with Imagine, Faith serves as a member of Everett’s Cultural Arts Commission.
Seattle Human Rights Film Festival
Five cultural studies students worked with faculty member Ben Gardner to develop a course that designed post-film audience engagement activities. Partnering with Amnesty International's annual Seattle Human Rights Film Festival, the students facilitated two post-film activities to promote dialogue and social action around human rights issues.
The selected films included "To See If I'm Smiling," which features the stories of six female Israeli soldiers formerly stationed in Gaza, and "Journey Through Hell," which documents the perilous journey of Somali and Ethiopian migrants risking their lives to cross the Gulf of Aden in search of a better future. Both post-film activities evoked difficult questions and thoughtful dialogue, and audience members were encouraged to visit a wiki website developed by the students to foster more discussion and resource sharing.
The Wing Luke Asian Museum
In October 2008, Cultural Studies students participated in the first-ever Ballot Party held at The Wing Luke Asian Museum (WLAM) in Seattle's International District. In conjunction with the museum's exhibit "Our Voices...Our Democracy: Civic Engagement in the Asian Pacific Islander American (APIA) Community," the Ballot Party was co-hosted by a number of community-based organizations, including: WLAM, Asian Pacific American Labor Association, APIAvote WA '08, ROAR, and OneAmerica.
The Ballot Party featured a presentation on the importance of elections, interpretive services, assistance with voting, and ballot collection. Cultural Studies students participated in a variety of ways: helping staff the Ballot Party, documenting the event, and meeting with community organizers to discuss how civic engagement operates within our local APIA communities.