Brigid Transon, a 2018 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellow, will be sharing monthly blog posts about her experiences teaching the arts through ASTEP at Refugee Youth Summer Academy. A team of 13 ASTEP Volunteer Artists lead the creative arts classes at the Refugee Youth Summer Academy, which supports the personal growth, cultural adjustment, and education of multicultural refugee youth and helps them successfully transition into the US school system. Through the arts, these young people learn they have what it takes to succeed no matter the obstacles, which is key to breaking cycles of poverty.
Blog Post #1:
August 22, 2018
RYSA: Week 2
Hello All, I’m Brigid Transon. This is my second summer with RYSA (Refugee Youth Summer Academy). I have been honored to be chosen as one of the Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellows. This summer I have the opportunity to not only teach the young students, but I am teaching Upper School as well. Teaching the Upper School students was something I was nervous about as soon as I was given the role. I have lots of experience with young students, where my expressive silly self can communicate when language may not suffice.
Last summer I taught Lower School dance and assisted with Lower School music. I loved the RYSA experience and working with these incredible and inspiring students. My love for these students made me decide to work with the elementary students every Saturday (SLS) during the school year. SLS provided a space to see students and talk to them about their transition into public schools in New York.
The ASTEP team is incredibly strong with brilliant ideas and inspirations. Now with two
weeks completed I have learned a lot. I have learned not only about my fears teaching
Upper School, but also about what I can learn from students who I have taught for
more than one year.
Three Lessons Learned from RYSA thus far:
1) Upper School is crazy creative
a. During our first class our oldest students were creating choreography based on the
name game. These dances not only included levels but formation changes as well!
2) Lower School is never what you expect
a. As a returning teacher, I had an idea of what the class
dynamics would be from the class rosters. And WOW was I wrong! One of the classes
who has a group of students who were more serious in the past creates the most
interesting movements when going across the floor. In Lower School, we focus on
combining dance concepts, therefore as an example I give the students the prompt “go
across the floor in a low level, quick speed and near kinosphere.”
3) Upper School LOVES to dance!!!!
a. RYSA goes on field trips every Friday. Week one the students went to the Natural
History Museum and then ate lunch outside in the park. I was eating with Lower School
when suddenly I looked up and saw a dance circle had started. What started with only
one class turned into almost everyone from upper school. Each new song was from a
different country! The students started with bachata, the Azonto, to the Macarena to
Cardi B. Everyone got a say in the music and dance choice!
b. Week two the students were at Central Park. Here multiple dance circles were
started. One right when we got to the park, another while making friendship bracelets
and a final one after lunch. Unlike the first field trip these circles did not include all of
Upper School but each class started their own circle and always welcomed anyone who
wanted to join!
I want to thank the ASTEP administration, the Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger
Fellowship, the IRC and my co-teachers. I cannot wait for the rest of the summer and to
discover what else I can learn from this incredible program. I am provided with the
space to be challenged about my ideas of education, learn from my students and co-
artists, and have fun using the arts to transform lives. I will keep you updated on the
programing and what I have learned after week four.