VOW Supports NYC Department of Education To Amplify AAPI & Latinx Voices

Last year, the education team at Voice of Witness (VOW) collaborated on a workshop series with the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) as part of their Hidden Voices Project, an initiative to help students learn about historically underrepresented communities and the ways these communities shape New York history and identity. The workshops taught educators how to use oral history as a tool to bring community stories into the classroom.

This year, VOW continued our partnership with NYC DOE and the Hidden Voices Project by developing a suite of lesson plans that center AAPI and Latinx oral histories.

These lesson plans have been made widely available as grab-and-go resources for teachers to support social studies education and multilingual learners across the over 1800 schools that make up the NYC school districts.

The lessons, five focusing on AAPI stories and five focusing on Latinx stories, follow roughly the same sequence:

  • Students learn about the format of oral history storytelling, comparing and contrasting oral history with other forms of historical narratives.
  • Students read a collection of oral histories from AAPI and Latinx communities and identify the information that is included in personal narratives that is typically left out by news articles, encyclopedia articles, and fact sheets. Students engage in a variety of reflective and creative response activities to grapple with the themes and emotional resonance of the stories.
  • The lessons culminate by starting students on a path of thinking about their own oral history projects, identifying questions they might want to ask people within their own communities.

Featured in the lesson plans are oral histories from a few of VOW’s human rights books, including:

  • Hani Khan from Patriot Acts: Narratives of Post-9/11 Injustice
  • Mr. Lai from Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives
  • Soledad Castillo from Solito, Solita: Crossing Borders with Youth Refugees from Central America
NYC DOE logo

The lessons also draw from other oral history resources, such as the Densho Archives and the New York City Trans Oral History Project, to provide a diverse collection of stories for students.

The curricula from this collaboration is now available to students and teachers in New York City for the 2023-24 school year. Access it here.

Interested in having Voice of Witness support your school district? Learn more about VOW services and contact Education Program Director Erin Vong: erin@voiceofwitness.org

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