March 2022

Frédérick Moreau (Canada) with Special Guest Lynn Ditchfield (USA)

Welcoming Newcomer Teenagers With Artistic Expression: Learning Without Unlearning Cultures

Session Synopsis

This is one of ITAC Collaborative's monthly Think Tank sessions where Frédérick Moreau, creator of this program Le plaisir de la culture en français, housed in Laval, Québec, Canada where more than 400 students are from more than 20 different cultures, invited teaching artists to explore both his program and Borders to Bridges in the United States (presented by Lynn Ditchfield), which support young people as they come into contact with a new cultures, through artistic expression. 

This Think Tank aimed to engage those curious about working with other cultures by providing an opportunity to discuss the various ways teaching artists can work with immigrant teenagers, who are often forced to adapt to new cultures but have incredibly rich experiences to share—experiences which can educate and inform how Teaching Artists can better support them. For them, art in all its forms can be an opportunity to forge their future, discover themselves, laugh, and develop their social and language skills. Here a teaching artist can guide their journey so that learning a new culture does not divide them, nor erase their existing identity, but instead becomes a positive experience. 

Additionally, the Think Tank encouraged participants to put themselves in newcomers' shoes, in order to develop tools to help us better appreciate and support this unique perspective.

After Frédérick Moreau and Lynn Ditchfield presented their projects, they engaged Think Tank participants in an active conversation exploring how adolescents can continue to express themselves through the arts. Collectively discussing: What is going on in their minds? In which language do they imagine the scenarios they create? Which difficulties do they encounter? Moreover, how can we learn a new language, a new culture, through the arts? How can a teenager become familiar with a host culture without losing their own? What goes through the mind of a teenager who finds themselves forced to learn new cultural references?

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