UT international students participate in community art project | UToledo News

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UT international students participate in community art project

Students of the Advanced Speaking and Listening: American Culture class recently shared their stories about strong women who have influenced them as part of the Sit&Tell Project.

Sit&Tell is a community-wide art project that brings together storytellers and artists to share positive, inspiring stories about strong women. The project began with 100 stories being shared March 20, National Storytelling Day.

Mohammed Alabbas, right, showed his Sit&Tell story to Mahdi Ghashi. Both are advanced American Language Institute students who were in the Advanced Speaking and Listening class spring semester.

Mohammed Alabbas, right, showed his Sit&Tell story to Mahdi Ghashi. Both are advanced American Language Institute students who were in the Advanced Speaking and Listening class spring semester.

Artists and designers then received the recorded stories and were tasked with interpreting them artistically on chairs. The chairs, which will have QR codes linking them to their respective stories, will be part of rolling exhibitions through Toledo neighborhoods this summer.

Sherris Schwind, English as a second language instructor of the Advanced Speaking and Listening class, participated in Sit&Tell by sharing her own story.

Aware of the hurdles international students face when coming to the United States, like language barriers and a totally foreign culture, Schwind wanted to give her students the opportunity to engage with the community and feel more included. After her own positive experience with the project, she spoke to Jenn Stucker, founder of the event, about bringing it to her classroom.

Once she got the go-ahead, Schwind instructed her class of international students to prepare their two-minute stories, which were recorded in spring semester.

The students’ stories included a variety of strong women, from mothers and sisters to models and daughters of prophets, and described the way those women inspired and changed their lives.

“[My aunt] affected my life. She came to America to study, she graduated in Florida, she never gives up. That’s why I came here to study,” said Yang Ming, advanced American Language Institute student.

Lin Yao, advanced American Language Institute student, told a story about his grandmother: “She gave me a lot of knowledge I can’t learn in school. She has a lot of power of love.”

One student spoke of her single mother’s success and struggles in raising nine children on her own, and another described his neighbor, an old woman who devoted her time to caring for a local man in need. Every student in the class had a story to share.

The project allowed these students to practice the English speaking and listening skills they need to excel in their classes at The University of Toledo, Schwind said.

For more information about Sit&Tell, visit sitandtell.com.

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