Given the current political landscape in the U.S. and the recent executive orders that have left immigrant and refugee communities in a particularly vulnerable position, we believe our project is taking place at a pivotal moment for our university and country. The Mentoring Through Making initiative is an innovative approach to education that combines the critical thinking of a seminar, the creative experimentation of a studio, and the real world experience of service-learning. New School students will enact John Dewey’s learning-by-doing pedagogy, applying their knowledge of forced migration, social inequity and public policy, to directly support organizations through volunteer work. We understand that young people from susceptible communities, such as immigrant and refugee populations, benefit most from mentoring when it comes from people close to their own age, i.e. college students. As a school of emerging designers and change makers, we believe that collaboration and making are conduits for mentoring that have not been fully explored. This is an opportunity for The New School to leverage the unique talents of our student body and to support development within deserving communities.
In the Mentoring Through Making course, class time is devoted to lectures, readings and discussion about forced migration and public policies impacting immigrants and refugees. We will also utilize class time to explore creative documentary strategies including video, sound, photography and drawing. Students will utilize a learning portfolio blog throughout the semester to reflect on their experiences. Throughout the semester, students will direct outside class time toward the service-learning portion of the class at Masa in the South Bronx. Students travel to Masa weekly by public transportation and work with immigrant youth as tutors. Students document their volunteer experiences through a digital media project of their choosing, which could range in outcome from a film, to a website, book or hybrid platform. At the end of the semester these final projects will be shared with the immigrant-serving organizations to help support their outreach efforts and marketing needs. We believe this is an opportunity for New School students to utilize their unique strengths in design, creative collaboration and community development.
The Mentoring Through Making initiative encompasses several of The New School’s shared capacities. Students engage in critical analysis through the seminar portion of the course where they will explore contemporary scholarship and public policies on the topic of forced migration and refugee experiences. Students exercise multi-modal communication through in-class discussion, writing and creative making in an effort to reflect and synthesize their own thoughts and opinions. Students must apply their resiliency and flexibility to adapt their classroom knowledge on the ground through volunteer work, using the urban environment and diverse communities as a laboratory.