GBS Art Exhibit Highlights Immigration Stories

A student shared her experience working in a Chinese labor camp as her family left North Korea to come to America. A teacher shared her father’s story of coming to America from former Yugoslavia.

These are two of 57 stories displayed at Glenbrook South High School by Students Organized Against Racism, agroup created this year to raise awareness around race issues, as part of an art exhibit that highlights immigrant stories within the school community, said sponsor Emily Ekstrand. The stories are pinned on a hallway wall around 114 painted cardboard butterflies, she said.

GBS principal Lauren Fagel said she was “blown away” by the students’ project idea. She added that the school does not collect data on how many students are immigrants and has “no way of guessing.”

“The exhibit mostly says that we acknowledge, support and embrace everyone’s story,” she said. “The exhibit hit on an aspect of our diversity that maybe hasn’t been brought to the forefront before, and that’s this notion of immigration stories.”

Students involved in the organization came up with the idea on the Feb. 16 A Day Without Immigrants protest, Ekstrand said. That day, the organization held “an emergency meeting” and decided it wanted to do more to raise awareness about immigrant issues in the school, she said.

Junior Sana Bouacha said she likes reading Humans of New York, a blog that shares the stories of New York City residents, so she came up with the idea to share immigrant stories in a similar way.

“A lot of people don’t really know who the immigrants are in this school, or what they go through, so I hope this project has brought an understanding to … what an immigrant had to go through to get here,” Bouacha said.

By Alexandra Kukulka for Chicago Tribune
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