What is Phase One?
In Phase One, Promise of Home sought out to understand our youth immigrant participant’s hopes, plans, and experiences in the Fredericton community as well as at their school. We did this by coaching the participants in expressing their stories using various art forms, such as story-writing, music, poetry, spoken word, drama and visual arts. The project consisted of story-creating workshops that gradually accumulated into a series of recorded performances chronicling the challenges of the participants youth, their joys, and their resentment that they harbour for living in an unfamiliar place. The participants had opportunities to learn about these creative expressive forms, try them, and choose the one that they thought would be the best way to tell their story. Through these performances, the participants were able to build the capacity to live through their emotions as they emerged to learn that even though home is understood to be a physical place, the feeling of home can also form with more lasting effects around a sense of belonging experienced within their own selves as well as with others.
In Phase One, it was Promise of Home’s intention, as researchers and academics, to create an environment to benefits all parties associated with this project. Some outcomes of the project included: the prevention of mental health issues by providing students the opportunity to share their personal experiences; dissolving imagined boundaries; building bridges and commonalities among other students; and telling stories that the public does not recognize/are not visible in order to humanize newcomers. By the end of Phase One, Promise of Home has witnessed and collected engaging and thoughtful stories for various high school student immigrants who have given their time, dedication, and labour to working with us on creating change in Fredericton.
Covid-19 created a variety of barriers for Phase One of our project as it had become more difficult to meet with the participants for workshops and record the stories. Originally, we had planned on facilitating four workshops with the participants, hosting a few performance practices, and then having a final performance on stage before the townhall meeting with community members and government. As the pandemic hit, we had to change around the plan for Phase One. Meetings were switched to online platforms, however this was difficult as all participants had different levels of access to internet and computer access, as well as knowledge of technological platforms. Once the weather was warmer, the Promise of Home team and the high school participants switched out meetings to outdoors at Odell Park. This went well for the most part, and through these outdoor meetings we were able to practice and record the participants stories while maintaining physical distancing and mask-wearing.