Top to bottom: Student Miyasar Khakiyeva with Christine Marie Brown, Mamata Tamang with Gin Hammond, and Elizabeth Reh


As an organization with a background in community radio and ethnomusicology, Jack Straw Productions is committed to helping individuals from different cultures preserve their stories and traditions, both for themselves and to encourage understanding in the larger community. Our audio production programs provide students with opportunities to talk and write about their powerful personal stories, to learn more about themselves and each other, and to raise their self-esteem in a safe environment working with families, community partners, and a team of artists and educators.

We have produced immigration programs with many different schools and community partners, each program designed to meet the particular student needs. In some cases, such as Kimball Elementary in Seattle, classes have had a majority of students from many different countries. At other schools, such as Hamilton Middle School in Seattle, we have worked with a specific ethnic group, such as Eritrean students. For schools with less diversity, such as TOPS in Seattle, we have designed programs where students interview immigrant community members or students from other schools.

Students create their audio stories through integrated arts curricula with teaching artists from several arts disciplines, including theater, writing, music, and audio media with sessions at their school, in our studios, and in various community locations. Our artist team works with students to select their topics, plan and conduct interviews, draft and revise written pieces, rehearse and record their stories, produce sound effects, select or create music, and participate in final audio production.


Stories of Arrival: Youth Voices is a community partnership project between Foster High School, Jack Straw Productions, KBCS 91.3 FM radio and the Institute for Poetic Medicine in Palo Alto, CA.

Project co-directors poet Merna Ann Hecht and ELL teacher Carrie Stradley worked with English Language Learners at Foster High School in Tukwila Washington, helping them tell their stories in English through poetry. Jack Straw Productions voice coaches came to the classroom to help students read their poems out loud. The poems were then recorded in the Jack Straw studios where the students received individual vocal coaching, provided each other with feedback, and helped the engineers with the recording process.

Students in our 2013 project came from Bhutan, Burma, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mexico, Somalia, and Vietnam. The Stories of Arrival project culminated with an anthology, audio CDs, this web page, and the airing of Jack Straw-produced radio pieces on KBCS-FM.

Foster High School is the only high school in the most linguistically diverse school district in the nation, according to The New York Times. The students are immigrants and refugees from Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kenya, Mexico, Tanzania, Vietnam, Nepal, and other places spanning the globe. All have left behind members of their family on their journey here. They will most likely be the first in their families to graduate from high school.

"Each young person in this project shares the experience of having left a homeland which in many instances was a result of forced migration due to the consequences of war and violent conflict. . . . With breathtaking beauty and clarity they have opened their memory boxes and their hearts so that we come close to what and who they have loved and lost."
-Merna Hecht

"This year I saw students bring to the surface, often for the first time, memories of family members who have passed away, bittersweet reflections of their lives in refugee camps, and hopes for peace in their homelands. The project allows students to express themselves in a eway that test scores can't measure, and is by far more impactful. I am honored to witness the students' sense of empowerment through this experience and to help them articulate their reflections of life."
-Carrie Stradley, ELL Teacher, Foster High School

In April, 2013 the Stories of Arrival poems were broadcast as part of National Poetry Month on KBCS. Each piece features one or two of the students reading their poems.

Here is the first radio piece, featuring Foster poets Abdi Ibrahim and Benu Ghimire:

You can listen to all of the poems below.

Foster High School student Jonathan Tum Ceu Hnin with Jack Straw teaching artist Christine Marie Brown. All photos on this page by Sherwin Eng

Foster student Hamza Abdullahi with Jack Straw
teaching artist Gin Hammond

Foster student Solomon Muche with Jack Straw
engineer Moe Provencher

Foster student Des Rai


Stories of Arrival: Youth Voices 2013

Opening Narration:
Alem Belete:
Abdi Ibrahim:
Andres Maya Perez:
Bu Meh
Benu Ghimirey:
Ajaya Darjee:
Binod Sangraula:
Chandra Poudel:
Hamza Abdullahi:
Abdinasir Muse:
Cing Zam Lun:
Diksha Khadka:
Des Rai:
Geovanna Castro:
Ivan Luis Santiago:
Francis Kham:
Janga Gajmer:
Hsar Moo:
Kiet Phan:
Huai Pi:
Luis Angel Ocampo:
Jonathan Tum Ceu Hnin:
Mahmud Mamme:
Kaw Po:
Mamata Tamang:
Lal Nun Puii:
Lal Hming Mawii:
Mercy Bawi:
Mihiret Belete:
Meron Falu:
Vy Nguyen:
Miyasar Khakiyeva:
Naina Biswa:
Nanda Rae:
Naing Mon:
Saaqo Aden:
Nar Chuwan:
Samuel Fnu:
Shreejana Biswa:
Solomon Muche:
Sui Lian Thang:
Van Li Nian:
Thu Nguyen:
Vung Za:
Yusuf Hamid:
Barun Biswa:
Elizabeth Reh:
Rithy Sann:
Closing Credits:

Jack Straw engineer Tom Stiles, Gin Hammond, and Foster student Des Rai

Foster Student Nanda Rai and Christine Marie Brown


For further information on our educational programs, contact:

Joan Rabinowitz, Executive Director
Jack Straw Productions


Copyright 2014 Jack Straw Cultural Center~ All rights reserved