| Program: || Many Faces of Lynn: City of Immigrants, Salem, MA |
| Contact(s): || Barbara Kramer, ESL Director: (781) 593-0100 |
| Purpose: || To collaborate with organizations which serve minority immigrant populations, promote understanding among diverse cultures within the Lynn community, and encourage continuous partnerships on common concerns and interests |
In September 1997, English as a Second Language the teachers from two different programs brought their classes together for a cultural exchange. The experience was so successful that the Jewish Family Service applied for, and subsequently received, a grant from Trinitas Foundation to continue the program for one year. The resulting project, The Many Faces of Lynn: City of Immigrants, is a partnership between the Jewish Family Service New American Center, Operation Bootstrap, and the Lynn Community Cultural Center.
The Many Faces of Lynn: City of Immigrants promotes understanding between cultures through education, exploration, and sharing. The program involved forty-seven students of all ages from Cuba, Bosnia, Guatemala, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Croatia, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Somalia, and the United States. Trained facilitators led a series of six two-hour meetings and assisted the participants in breaking down the barriers that existed between them. During the first meeting, students conducted personal interviews in small groups using questionnaires developed by the students and their teachers. During this session students shared information about their lives and cultures. A later session involved a party for the students and their children to hear Judith Black, a nationally recognized story teller, tell an old African tale and the story of Esther. Over 120 people representing, a wide varieties of countries and ethnic backgrounds, attended this meeting. During additional meetings, the participants discussed their original homelands, geography, family and marriage. Over the final few meetings, the participants shared their native food, music and dances. Students found that each meeting reinforced the idea that all people have dreams and aspirations for their families and themselves.
Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments
Throughout the course of the Many Faces of Lynn program, students realized that despite cultural differences as immigrants, they shared many of the same experiences and faced many of the same challenges. The participants came to realize that in many ways, they were more alike than different. The most significant impact of the program was the caring and respect that the students exhibited for each other and the understanding that they developed for each other's cultures and values.