Youth Annual Showcase Art Gallery

Youth Art Showcase  

One good thing about being stuck at home is the extra time to make art! ReWA encourages our students to explore art as a way to express, reflect, and cultivate an image they could not with words. This year’s Annual Youth Art Showcase has gone virtual and features work of art by youth, ages 8-21, and reflecting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests. Art pieces include watercolor landscapes, acrylic self-portraits, pencil-drawn comics, cardboard rocket sculptures, and paper mache piggy banks, and many more.

ReWA Youth Instructor, Alexis Joshua, said, “Art is a universal language that allows different groups of people to understand each other’s culture, identity, and unique experiences. This entails building a strong community among youth that mirrors and celebrates themselves and one another.”

Youth featured in this showcase participate in ReWA’s three youth after-school programs: Project-based Learning (PBL), Youth Job Readiness Training (YJRT), and Post Secondary Success. The PBL program encouraged their students to do anything through art that allows them to reflect and/or escape from what’s going on in today’s world. The YJRT youth decided to create visual art presentations of Somali Dance Culture, Prayer Times, Youth Homelessness, Homework Help within Schools, Service of Immigrants, and the Hijab Community. Students demonstrated these themes through drawing, painting, creating diagrams, and dance. 

ReWA also held an online art workshop with guest art teacher, Lori Leberer who shared her art lessons on drawing eyes.

drawing of an eye for art class
Drawing from class materials by Seattle World School art teacher, Lori Leberer.








Thank you to the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture for funding this project. 

ESL online: bridging the digital divide

ReWA’s ESL Coordinator, Yuliya Matyushkina, doesn’t usually make house-calls, but last week she did. Wearing a face mask and social distancing, she visited several adult English learners to help them learn to use a laptop for English classes.

ReWA’s six classrooms in Seattle, Kent and SeaTac, reach over 200 students each year. English learners come from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Syria, among others.

Since the COVID outbreak, ReWA English teachers have created a distance-learning curriculum and integrated technology into instruction.

 “The challenge with online learning is that many of our students are not tech savvy. So, when classes were suspended for the COVID-19 outbreak, we had to get creative–not only with English lessons but making sure they are informed about the pandemic so they can keep their families safe.””

According to a 2018 study, 21% of low-income households in Seattle have no internet access.

ReWA’s English teachers report that while students’ tech skills vary, some are connecting with teachers on apps like Viber, WhatsApp, or make regular calls or text. “For some students getting ESL lessons is a way to have a routine during the day,” ESL teacher, Karin Kaups said.

ESL teacher's finger pointing to mailed homework packet
When ESL classes were cancelled in March, teachers sent homework packets by mail.

But many English students lack laptops or wifi access, and those with school-age children have extra challenges at home. “It’s hard to engage families when their kids are struggling with online education, too,” Yuliya said.

But with recent donation of laptops for the ESL students, Yuliya is making home visits to provide hands-on instruction on how to use the computer and access online learning resources—not just about English, but about Covid-19 health information, job resources, applying for unemployment, finding food banks, and learning how to video conference.

Kaups observed, “When I talk to a student on video chat at home, we realize shared hobbies, like gardening. And that opens the door to meaningful, authentic conversations, which is where the best language learning happens. Also, when I introduce a new vocabulary word, like ‘fork’, it’s easy to just grab one in the kitchen to show.”

With a return to some in-person services this summer, English classes will likely remain a hybrid of YouTube videos, homework packets arriving by mail, and weekly check-ins by phone with their teacher.