CORONA, QUEENS, NY, October 23, 2012— First Person American and the Queens Museum of Art held What’s Your Story? Corona Plaza Welcoming Stories, a community potluck and screening of 9 short films that explore personal narratives from immigrants about the people who welcomed them and changed their lives forever. The potluck and screening took place in the recently renovated Corona Plaza, and was fully bi-lingual (English and Spanish). The plaza—situated in a culturally diverse neighborhood and a magnet for neighborhood activity—made for a perfect venue for What’s Your Story? Corona Plaza Welcoming Stories. The screening and potluck took place following an Afternoon of Boleros—a Queens Museum of Art dance and music festival celebrating the beautiful bolero music of Latin America. The cool fall night and potluck dinner attracted a constant stream of guest to the screening and made for an impromptu family night.
The screening’s first three films–Yasmany’s Welcoming Story, Dino’s Welcoming Story, and Masuma’s Welcoming Story–focused on each student’s journey to America, their difficulties during assimilation, and how the act of one person helped them overcome their struggles and pushed them to take advantage of their opportunities in America. The fourth film, Welcoming Stories Behind the Scenes, reveled how the students transformed from storyteller to activist. The films were co-produced by First Person American and the students of Julie Mann’s Human Rights Class as part of the Newcomers High School Welcoming Stories Workshop help in the 2012 spring semester.
Following the screening of the first 4 films, the audience listened as Megan, Kanto, and Farida—alumni of the Newcomers High School Welcoming Stories Workshop–shared their own stories about coming to America, and who welcomed them. They also talked about how they became a welcoming person, and gave the audience tips on how to be more welcoming to immigrants in Corona. The most engaging part of the night came during the audience Q&A session with the students. The students answered questions about how they’ve applied what they learned during the workshop, and were given the opportunity to discuss what they’ve been doing since graduating high school.
Five additional Welcoming Stories were screened after the Q&A session. These stories featured immigrants from a broad age and demographic range. Each person shared their story of coming to American and talked about someone who was able to make a difference in their lives.
After all the films had concluded, two courageous audience members shared their story at the booth set up by First Person American. The volunteers operating the booth helped the storytellers by prompting them with questions prior to the on camera interview. The filming of the interviews drew a small crowd and gave the Queens Museum of Art and First Person American another opportunity to promote their initiatives.
What’s Your Story? Corona Plaza Welcoming Stories was a tremendous success and First Person American is looking forward to holding future screenings.