2015

Grant Recipients

Latin Americans

Hispanic Center of Western Michigan

Nuestra Historia, Nuestra Voz

$25,000 • Grand Rapids

In Nuestra Historia, Nuestra Voz (Our History, Our Voice), high school students in the Grandville Avenue area in Grand Rapids had the opportunity to explore their own Latino heritage, as well as that of their community and the state of Michigan. All of the participants were members of the Hispanic Center’s SOL Peer Leaders, a group of students who have strong leadership skills and experience with community engagement, and they took part in weekly arts, humanities, and leadership workshops at the Hispanic Center. Participants learned about the history of Latinos in Michigan, focusing on themes such as language, immigration, identity, religion, migrant farm work, and cultural celebrations and traditions. They also explored issues of oppression, racism, and poverty. Together, they have worked to build a stronger community, using their knowledge and experiences to break down stereotypes and examine their own cultural identity and community history. As part of their exploration of cultural identity, stereotypes, and oppression, the students hosted an event at the Hispanic Center at which they performed skits and offered monologues about their personal encounters with racism.

The culmination of this project was the creation of a mural in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood, the neighborhood with the highest Latino population in Grand Rapids. The students were involved in every step of the mural process, and they worked to engage the neighborhood in dialogue and build consensus. After developing three preliminary designs, they hosted neighborhood forums, where community residents had the chance to provide feedback. The finished mural incorporated themes of unity, cultural heritage, and education—encompassing the past, present, and future of the Grandville Avenue area in Grand Rapids.

 “When I was approached with this new idea to create something bigger together as a community, it was then that I understood I was not alone.” – owner of the building where students and artists created the mural

Students helped to design and paint the mural after discussions and workshops with residents. The finished mural incorporated themes of unity, cultural heritage, education – encompassing the past, present, and future of the Granville Avenue area in Grand Rapids.


Students participated in weekly art, humanities, and leadership workshops at the Hispanic Center.

Students discussed three preliminary designs at neighborhood forums. Attendees had the opportunity to provide feedback through discussion, surveys, and voting.

Attendees at the student-led neighborhood forum had the opportunity to provide feedback through discussion, surveys, and voting (stickers).

 

 

Students performed skits and shared monologues about their personal encounters with Racism at the Hispanic Center, this event had nearly 60 people attend.

Students performed skits and shared monologues about their personal encounters with Racism at the Hispanic Center, this event had nearly 60 people attend.

Our Future is Bright