A Columbia Heights Theater Camp Helps DACA Recipients Tell Their Stories

A Columbia Heights Theater Camp Helps DACA Recipients Tell Their Stories


in the beginning look, Jenny doesn’t appear like a celebrity. The 15-12 months-old DC resident speaks quietly to strangers and smiles on the floor while she’s nervous. however whilst she took the stage these days at a fundraiser for GALA Hispanic Theatre’s education software, Paso Nuevo, hundreds of humans inside the audience had been riveted.

Jenny is certainly one of approximately 50 teenager­agers who attend Paso Nuevo every 12 months. (The camp asked that we no longer use students’ closing names.) most are Spanish speakers native to primary American nations. about eighty percent are DACA recipients, that means they had been delivered illegally to the united states as kids. Their repute right here teeters in perpetual jeopardy.

The Spanish-language monologue Jenny brought turned into some thing she wrote all through one of Paso Nuevo’s free bilingual classes. without a stumble, she stated the story of her father’s deportation from Washington to Guatemala two years in the past. “the sector of my childhood was a single coloration—the coloration of spring,” she instructed the target market in Spanish. “step by step, my international separated in .” but she might now not stop loving her father, she said, even from some distance away. A heavy silence lingered after she completed. Then applause.

For 25 years, the program in Columbia Heights has taught students a way to write, act, and produce a small show. The young adults’ work is so skillful that during 2012, then–First woman Michelle Obama set up a performance at the White residence and offered Paso Nuevo with a $10,000 provide from the national Arts and arts adolescents application Awards. most of the $one hundred fifty,000-plus annual price range comes from arts presents, and funding this system can be a battle.

Paso Nuevo is extra than simply an area to create, particularly given the upward push in anti-immigrant rhetoric. students can voice stresses that otherwise don't have any outlet: a own family struggle, a college bully, a feel of having caught within the cracks between English and Spanish. And due to the fact Trump’s election, Paso Nuevo’s students have feared not best racial profiling but also deportation and separation from their families. “not many human beings hear my story,” says Christell, a thirteen-yr-vintage who finished on the fundraiser. “I simply want humans to look who i'm.”

each semester starts offevolved with participants discussing their lives to locate commonplace threads. “We start to keep in mind that although our studies can be exclusive, we’re now not on my own,” says Mauricio Pita, GALA’s director of schooling. college students then translate their fears and hopes into an emotional overall performance piece. “human beings suppose writing is uninteresting,” Jenny says. “They suppose essays—like in college—are writing. but the ones humans have to revel in theater.”

this text regarded in the July 2018 issue of Washingtonian.

greater: Columbia Heights DACA Donald Trump GALA Hispanic Theatre Immigration Theater

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