FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Irina Lee
347.443.8745 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Corona Plaza, Roosevelt Avenue between National and 104th Street, Corona, Queens
Transportation: 7 train to the 103rd and Roosevelt Avenue stop
Sunday, October 21, 2012, 5:30-9:00pm
Free & Open to All
NEW YORK, NY, October 15, 2012—The Queens Museum of Art and First Person American present What’s Your Story? Corona Plaza Welcoming Stories—a community event screening 9 short films that explore personal narratives from immigrants about the people who welcomed them and changed their lives forever. The Queens Museum of Art will host the What’s Your Story? Corona Plaza Welcoming Stories on Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 5:30pm in Corona Plaza located in Corona, Queens, NY.
What’s Your Story? Corona Welcoming Stories will start at 5:30 PM with a potluck style “welcoming dinner” where local residents can meet others in the community and “welcome” each other to the neighborhood with favorite dishes from their home country. The event will be fully bi-lingual in English and Spanish.
With Corona Plaza serving as the family room, What’s Your Story? Corona Welcoming Stories will show the tremendous impact small acts of kindness had during several immigrants’ lives. The films were created as part of the Newcomers High School Welcoming Stories Workshop and the Welcoming Stories pilot series and include Yasmany’s story of discovering his American “swag”, Nika’s story about overcoming the difficulties of the American classroom, and Leila’s escaping an arranged marriage to pursue her own American dream. The community will also see how Newcomers High School students transformed from story tellers to activists in the short film Behind the Scenes of Newcomer High School Welcoming Stories.
After the screening Newcomers High School students will share their welcoming stories and how they became a welcoming person. First Person American will provide a welcoming guide and answer any questions about what it means to be welcoming in an effort to empower the audience to be more welcoming in their own communities. At the conclusion of the screening guest will have the opportunity to share their own welcoming stories at the First Person American Welcoming Stories video booth.
A local hub for the immigrant community in Corona, Corona Plaza will become a stage for storytelling and activism. The event will be an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate its diversity, but it will also give attendees the chance to learn how they can be more welcoming and promote a culture of understanding in their neighborhood.
“After years of community activism, a coalition of elected officials, CBOs, and local residents have managed to create Corona Plaza as a new public pedestrian plaza as part of the NYC DOT Plaza Program at the end of August 2012. Queens Museum, its partners, and socially-engaged artists are now planning a series of events to explore the potential uses of the space and to welcome the community to use and engage this new public amenity. We believe this potluck and First Person American screening will provide a model for shared use and sense of ownership of the plaza, as well as set the stage for the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Corona, many of whom are recent immigrants themselves, to feel welcomed by their neighbors. All cultures have their own traditions of hospitality, but at the heart of most is the sharing food and stories.” says Prerana Reddy, Queens Museum of Art, Director of Public Events.
What’s Your Story? Corona Plaza Welcoming Stories
When: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Where: Corona Plaza, Roosevelt Avenue between National and 104th Street, Corona, Queens
Transportation: Guests can get to Corona plaza by taking the 7 train to the 103rd and Roosevelt Avenue stop.
Short Films (All films are in English with Spanish Subtitles):
- Dino shares his story of coming to America from Montenegro in 2010. Dino talks about having the opportunity to do something his father never did, the difficulty of leaving behind his younger brother, and his love of soccer. Now as the captain of the Newcomers High School soccer team, Dino reflects on how his coach, Mr. Llull, helped him on and off the field.
- Masuma talks about leaving Bangladesh with her family when she was 15. Masuma’s initial excitement about coming to the United States was quickly replaced by fear once she realized how little she could communicate. Masuma shares her gratitude for her best friend, Anjum, who helped Masuma learn English and overcome her fears.
- Yasmany shares his story of coming to the United States from Cuba in 2008. Yasmany’s wild imagination allowed him to create a glamorous vision of himself in the United States. He reveals his initial disappointment about arriving in Miami. Yasmany divulges that a move to New York, and becoming best friends with two other immigrant students, Mike and Yandoli, allowed him to finally discover his American “swag”.
- Nika shares her story of coming to America from Warsaw, Poland in 1989. Nika remembers how she felt in an American classroom before she spoke English and how her ESL teacher who helped her in the first months had a lasting influence on her life to this day.
- Leila talks about leaving Kenya as a teenager. At 17 Leila didn’t know exactly what she wanted, but she knew it wasn’t an arranged marriage in her native Kenya. Now a successful business owner, Leila remembers her ex-husband’s mother, who gave her the tools to build and realize her own American dream.
- Ilona talks about Yvette, a college friend who took a special interest in her and has since become a lifelong friend and a “sister”. Ilona doesn’t know if she would have survived here for as long without her friend’s good soul.
- David learned everything about the US from watching “The Jetsons” during his childhood in Iran. When his uncle summoned him to Chicago, he found that some Americans really do live “in the sky.” David shares how his uncle helped him in his early days in America and expresses the gratitude he feels towards his uncle’s generosity.
- Mona is a first-generation Indian-American born and raised in California. She shares her parents’ Welcoming Story of coming to the United States from Calcutta, India, in 1971. Her father’s best friend, Bishash, picked them up from the airport and made himself their new tour guide. Bishash’s enthusiasm and adventurous spirit encouraged Mona’s parents to discover a powerful bond that would help embrace their new American world.
- The students of Julie Mann’s Human Rights class reflect on their experience during the Welcoming Stories Workshop. They share why it was important to tell their story, what they learned during the workshop, and how telling their story has empowered them to become a welcoming person.
ABOUT FIRST PERSON AMERICAN
First Person American focuses on stories of modern immigrants in the US, and explores what it means to be American through the lens of the immigrant in an expressive, personal and narrative style. First Person American aims to change the public’s perception of immigrants and to interject a new voice through deep and poignant portraits of people who immigrated to America. The mission of First Person American is to have a transformative effect on individual immigrant and non-immigrant lives and communities. First Person American is a recipient of the 2010 Sappi Ideas That Matter Grant and the 2011 Design Ignites Change Grant. For more information, please visit www.firstpersonamerican.org, follow us on Twitter @FPAmerican, and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/firstpersonamerican.
ABOUT QUEENS MUSEUM OF ART
The Queens Museum of Art was established in 1972 to provide a vital cultural center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park for the borough’s unique, international population. Today it is home to the Panorama of the City of New York, a 9,335 square foot scale model of the five boroughs, and features temporary exhibitions of modern and contemporary art that reflect the cultural diversity of Queens, as well as a collection of Tiffany glass from the Neustadt Museum of Tiffany Art. The Museum provides valuable educational outreach through a number of programs geared toward schoolchildren, teens, families, seniors and individuals with physical and mental disabilities.
The Museum’s hours are: Wednesday–Sunday: 12:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m., Friday: 12:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m., closed Monday & Tuesday. Admission to the Museum is by suggested donation: $8 for adults, $4 for seniors, students and children, and free for members and children under 5. For general visitor information, please visit the Museum’s website www.queensmuseum.org or call 718.592.9700.
Public Events in Corona Plaza are made possible with support from the Institute for Museum & Library Services, Surdna Foundation, the NYC Cultural Innovation Fund of the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Office of NYC Councilmember Julissa Ferreras. Additional organizational support provided by Queens Economic Development Corporation, Immigrant Movement International, and Corona CAN.
Welcoming Stories is developed in partnership with Active Voice with support from Sappi Ideas that Matter, Adobe Foundaton/Worldstudio Design Ignites Change, and Facing History and Ourselves. Additional organizational support provided by the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation Inc.