Week 1: STORYTELLING: Fact not Fiction

By: Marcus Crawford Guy, 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellow

It’s hard to believe that training and week one of teaching at the Refugee Youth Summer Academy (RYSA) have already come and gone. Lots of information, data and procedures that were learned on paper and through presentation in the training sessions were put into practice, challenged and executed this week. It was so important to be reminded that we can only be trained based on what has happened in previous years and that only serves as guidance for the experience we are currently having. There is no standard way for a student to experience the programming at RYSA. It’s improvised and live and as an actor, I find it thrilling.

Most notably, I was taken aback at the extensive and complex English vocabulary that many of the lower school students demonstrated on the first day of class. It was an incredible gift to be met with students who not only had English language capabilities, but also felt (for the most part) uninhibited sharing them with the group. It was shocking in the best of ways, because Kelsey and I had buffered our lesson plan, almost scripting it, to ensure our use of language wouldn’t be confusing. We were met with lots of raised eyebrows, knowing smiles and nods of understanding that proved our students are ready for the next level of English language immersion, tutoring and acquisition.

In deciding how best to tell and share stories with the students, Kelsey and I decided that we wanted to distinguish between the real and abstract and teach these concepts with clarity. What is real, actual and based in fact — that chair is wooden — and what is fictional, abstract and imagined — there is a blue elephant dancing in the corner of the room. As trained actors, we decided to create two alter-egos, SPARKLES & SPELLSY who accompany us when we are telling stories and really challenge the students to see more than what they are – wooden spoons with pipe-cleaner arms and legs! In teaching our first class, where we learned to introduce ourselves and where we are from, we had a hearty laugh with Lower School 2 (the Flying Arrows!) when the following scene unfolded:

Marcus: Everyone say hi to Sparkles and Spellsy!
Students: Hi Sparkles and Spellsy!
Kelsey: Can anyone tell us where Sparkles and Spellsy are from?
Student A: They’re wooden spoons. They’re not from anywhere…
Marcus & Kelsey: … (exchanged looks – they’ve unraveled our elaborate plan already!)
Student B: I know where they’re from!
Kelsey: Where?
Student B: TOMATO SAUCE! They’re wooden spoons!

We then engaged the students in a dialogue about how it feels to be called the wrong name or incorrectly identified, which proved a useful hook for opening up the idea of imagination and investing in another reality, where we agree upon the circumstances presented to us. Their ability to grasp this idea quickly made it clear to see that our students are prepared to go on an exciting journey with us where they are not only playful, but curious and inquisitive – skills that will serve them well when they enter the school system later next month and that we want to encourage and cultivate.

Next week we will be continuing our exploration of THE SENSES and seeing how Sparkles and Spellsy — who are now so much more than their wooden spoon exteriors — hold up as the students learn more about how to tell stories by describing the world around them (real or imagined) with specific detail.






Announcement: 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship Recipients

ASTEP is thrilled to announce that Kelsey Lake and Marcus Guy have been selected as recipients of the 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellowship!

The Fellows will be joining a team of 17 ASTEP Teaching Artists, who will lead the creative arts classes at the six-week International Rescue Committee’s Refugee Youth Summer Academy, using the arts to build English language skills, school readiness, and coping and self-regulation skills within this vulnerable and underserved population——tools they need to thrive in school and to help build a new life in their new home.

The Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenger Fellowship gives this unique opportunity to individuals who closely model Jennifer’s personal values and skill set and ensures newly arrived refugee youth will experience the transforming power of the arts, much as the arts impacted Jen’s life.


Human stories are ongoing, being picked up by one person where another leaves off. It is a great honor to carry on Jennifer’s enthusiasm & skill as a storyteller and use it to inspire a new generation of young voices. The baton passes on, and I commit to working with compassion, vitality and spirit in Jennifer’s name, as Kelsey and I interact with many young students this summer. Thank-you! – Marcus Crawford Guy, 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellow


I am truly honored and moved to help further Jennifer’s legacy through this generous fellowship and my work at RYSA this summer. I promise to appreciate each moment, dream big, and grasp every opportunity to bring the joy of creativity to my students. Thank you so, so much for your generosity and belief in ASTEP’s mission! – Kelsey Lake, 2017 Jennifer Saltzstein Kaffenberger Fellow

Last minute recruiting: 1 dancer for the Refugee Youth Summer Academy!

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Do you want to have a life changing experience this summer?

ASTEP is currently recruiting one dancer to join our Volunteer Team to teach at the 6-week Refugee Youth Summer Academy in NYC, presented in collaboration by ASTEP and the International Rescue Committee. Volunteer Teaching Artists will work collaboratively to create and implement a unique curriculum that uses the arts to build English language proficiency and social emotional skills.

  • Volunteers need to be comfortable working with English Language Learners.
  • Volunteers are on-site two days a week, 3 hours a week, from 12PM-3:30PM for 6 weeks.
  • Training takes place June 30 – July 2
  • The program runs from July 6 – August 20

Email Abby Gerdts at abby@asteponline.org to learn more!

+ Want to find out more about our partnership with The IRC?

+ Check out our blog from RYSA 2014!








It’s a wrap — Refugee Youth Summer Academy 2014!

Led by a team of 8 Volunteer Artists, ASTEP delivered the creative arts classes at RYSA for a 5th summer! Classes on visual art, storytelling, dance, and music provided refugee youth with a creative space to develop artistic abilities, strengthen English language skills, build confidence, and transition to their new home.

A big shout-out to the stellar volunteers who help make this all possible: Tracy Einstein (Dance), Noele Flowers (Dance), Lauren Gentry (Theatre), Monica Iancu (Visual Art), Gladys Pasapera (ASTEP Program Facilitator/Visual Art), Heddy Lahmann (Theatre), Vaishali Sinha (Dance), and Callie Tepper (Dance).

 

 

 

Seeking a dancer to volunteer at the Refugee Youth Summer Academy!

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Do you want to have a life changing experience this summer?

ASTEP is still recruiting 1 dancer to join our volunteer team and teach at the 4-week Refugee Youth Summer Academy in NYC, presented in collaboration by ASTEP and the International Rescue Committee. Volunteer Teaching Artists will work collaboratively to create and implement a unique curriculum that uses the arts to build English language proficiency and Social Emotional Skills.

  • Applicants will need to be comfortable working with English Language Learners.
  • Applicants will be on-site 4 hours a day, 3 days a week for 4 weeks.
  • Training takes place June 29 – July 3
  • The program runs from July 7 – August 1

Fill out our inquiry form to learn more!

Want to find out more about our partnership with The IRC?

Check out our blog from RYSA 2013!








Rocking out with refugee youth in NYC – RYSA Camp Blog!

Led by a team of 11 Volunteer Artists, ASTEP provided engaging creative arts classes during the Refugee Youth Summer Academy in partnership with the International Rescue Committee. 122 students experienced daily Visual Art, Story-telling, and Dance classes and on Fridays, took part in Field Trips to cultural locations in NYC, such as a special day at the Museum of Modern Art. The focus of ASTEP’s art programs are to provide refugee youth with a creative space to develop artistic abilities, strengthen their English language skills, build confidence, and transition to their new home.

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ASTEP Volunteer Team

This fun video introduces you to our Volunteer Artist Team who dedicate their time and talent to the kids we serve! We couldn’t do this without them: Taylor Colleton, Max Freedman, Kelsy Henderson, Zoe Kumagai, Danielle McIntosh, Molly Page, Gladys Pasapera, Autumn Potter, and Anna Snapp.

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Weekly Update

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Weekly Update

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Weekly Update

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Weekly Update

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Closing Video

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Displaying the visual art portrait projects

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Rehearsing the play that they wrote on their own!


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Rehearsing the dance piece for the final performance!


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Showcasing their large-scale artwork!











Volunteer artists are the key to our success!

ASTEP is always looking for dedicated and passionate artists who want to use the arts to transform children’s lives. There are many ways for you to get involved!

So that you’re prepared, follow these simple steps:

    • Learn more about our volunteer programs by visiting Where We Work.

 

    • Then fill out an Inquiry Form. An ASTEP staff member will contact you to guide you through the application process.

 

 

  • Complete a General Volunteer Training session. Then receive your volunteer placement and be on your way to changing lives through the arts!

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Check out our current volunteer needs:

+ Join our team of volunteer artists for ASTEP on STAGE! in New York City

+ Volunteer with ASTEP’s new partnership with Teach for India in Pune, India 

+ Volunteer at Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project in Bangalore, India 

+ Volunteer with ASTEP at Project CREO in Quito, Ecuador 

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“Working with ASTEP is truly invaluable—the feeling you get when you know you are simultaneously doing what you love while being able to help and inspire others is one that has only strengthened my connection to my art and my connection to the world.” — Renee Richard, Emerson College

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ASTEP Child Protection Policy ]

As a child-focused organization, ASTEP creates circumstances in which children and adults regularly come into contact with each other. To that end, our policy is intended to guide the organization and individuals associated with it (volunteers, staff members, board members, interns, partners, and others, hereafter referred to as associates) on appropriate interactions with children. The goal of this policy is to promote the safety and well-being of children participating in ASTEP programs and activities and to provide clear guidance to ASTEP associates on safer ways of working with children. We have a responsibility to promote the protection and safety of children while they are in contact with staff. A child or minor is defined as a person under 18 years of age.

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Volunteer with ASTEP! Current openings!

 

Check out our current volunteer needs:

+ Two dancers needed to join our Refugee Youth Summer Academy in NYC

+ A variety of artists needed at our Art-in-Action summer camp in South Florida


ASTEP is always looking for dedicated and passionate artists who want to use the arts to transform children’s lives. There are many ways for you to get involved!

So that you’re prepared, follow these simple steps:

  • Learn more about our volunteer programs by visiting Where We Work.
  • Then fill out an Inquiry Form. An ASTEP staff member will contact you to guide you through the application process.
  • When you’re ready, fill out our Volunteer Application and interview with a Program Director.
  • Complete a General Volunteer Training session. Then receive your volunteer placement and be on your way to changing lives through the arts!




“Working with ASTEP is truly invaluable—the feeling you get when you know you are simultaneously doing what you love while being able to help and inspire others is one that has only strengthened my connection to my art and my connection to the world.” — Renee Richard, Emerson College






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ASTEP Child Protection Policy ]

As a child-focused organization, ASTEP creates circumstances in which children and adults regularly come into contact with each other. To that end, our policy is intended to guide the organization and individuals associated with it (volunteers, staff members, board members, interns, partners, and others, hereafter referred to as associates) on appropriate interactions with children. The goal of this policy is to promote the safety and well-being of children participating in ASTEP programs and activities and to provide clear guidance to ASTEP associates on safer ways of working with children. We have a responsibility to promote the protection and safety of children while they are in contact with staff. A child or minor is defined as a person under 18 years of age.
 
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Children’s book proceeds to benefit ASTEP — great gift idea!

Congratulations to ASTEP Supporter, Karina Medina, who recently published her first children’s book! Karina works with us through our Creative Arts at PS199 program, and her book, which focuses on a child  forced to leave his home and then emigrates to NYC, was inspired through her experiences working with the same population of immigrant/refugee children that we work with. It’s beautifully written and illustrated, and the story is being used in our after-school classes to engage our students in discussing their own journeys to the U.S.

The book launch is scheduled for May 5, 2013 at The Museum of Tolerance New York from 11:30am-1:30pm, free admission.

Proceeds from the sale of the book will go to support ASTEP — thank you, Karina, for your tireless support of the children we work with at PS199 in Queens!

The eBook version is available for sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Print version is available through the Xlibris.

We encourage you to buy a copy — a great gift idea for the young ones in your life!