During this fiscal year starting July 2017, Portland Meet Portland has made connections for immigrant and refugee individuals and families as well as the mentors they work with. Numbers do not always speak for themselves, so read on below and hear what our participants had to say about their experience.
Immigrants & Refugees Served - over 300
Youth Leaders Empowered - 30
Citizenship & ESL Classes - 10 New Citizens-32
Volunteers and Mentors Engaged – 42
Cultural Exchange Hours – 1300 Dialogues Facilitated – 26 Community Members Engaged – 3700 Work Skill Hours – 2,640
Portland Meet Portland brings together dominant culture and immigrant/refugee individuals for deeper and sustained learning and growth. These are 2-way relationships where both people are considered mentors to the other. We know that creating cross-cultural community is just as much (or more) about engaging, opening up, and changing dominant culture Portland as it is about engaging immigrants and refugees. Mentorship matches are one way we do this. We have many such 1 -to-1 mentor matches. Here is Lora Gordon telling about her experience as a mentor.
The Common Ground Exhibition
In March 2018, PMP partnered with Portland Art Museum to co-create much of the educational and interpretive media programming around the Common Ground exhibition by Fazal Sheikh. We co-hosted the Miller Family Free day, provided docent training, hosted lectures and dialogues, created podcasts, and created the Portland Meet Portland room that featured the work of refugees the Portland Meet Portland works with.
Here is Ayan, one of the RISE students that we worked with in our Reflections on Common Ground podcast. She is an amazing young Somali woman who, through her participation, changed us. In what ways were were able to provide her a conduit for her to reflect on her own life and use her own voice, she gave back ten fold in the joy and insight she brought to those around her. Watch her, in this video we co-produced, recite an original poem "Racism" against the backdrop of the Common Ground Exhibition.
Every summer, Portland Meet Portland hosts one or more refugee youth as interns. During the summer of 2017, we hosted four refugee youth SummerWorks interns from Multnomah County. The experience was beyond successful for both the interns and all of the people who worked with them. Read more about the program and impact at Multnomah County's MultcoGlobal site.
Among the many experiences the four girls from Nepal and Burma had during their SummerWorks internship with Portland Meet Portland was visiting Bloom Pilates. Read Jodi Heintz, owner of Bloom Pilates experience working with the girls. Jodi said,
"Last month I had the opportunity to host a group of five young women at the studio who had moved to Portland as refugees from Nepal and Burma. It was equal parts fun and fascination trying to convey the philosophy and mechanics of a movement system they had never heard of before. We spent time on the mat and on the equipment learning how to “turn on” muscles and find alignment. There were a few groans about how hard Pilates is but, more importantly, lots of laughter muddling through Knee Folds, Hundreds, Roll Ups and Teasers. Their laughter and positive energy has stayed with me over the weeks since they visited the studio. It was pure joy introducing Pilates to these newcomers. It reminded me of the importance of facing new experiences and new places with humor and grace. It also reminded me to not take my own Pilates practice too seriously. Pilates is fun, after all! On the cusp of Bloom’s one-year anniversary, their questions about why I opened a Pilates studio helped me reflect on my passion for and belief in this movement system. And my desire to provide a safe and empowering space for people to find a mind-body connection that gives them strength inside and out."
Lived Citizenship and Stories from Our Village
The hundreds of hours spent making connections for newcomer refugee and immigrants and long-term residents really breaks down to one thing - relationships. Our goal is achieved in the stories of people making surprising realizations, new friendships and building new skills. This is embodied in our Lived Citizenship program and its project 'Stories from our Village'
In 2013, the Stories of Our Village project emerged as an opportunity to share stories of one of the most diverse communities in Portland = New Columbia. The mission of the story project was to capture in their own words a variety of voices from the New Columbia world. We've provided one of the 'Stories from our Village' publications for you to enjoy.