(From top) Foster students Marwan Abdulrahim, and Bhagi Biswa


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. (Click here to go to the 2010 Stories of Arrival page.)

Seattle Poet and 2008 Jack Straw Writer Merna Ann Hecht worked with Foster High School students from around the world to write poems about their experiences for a project titled Stories of Arrival, produced with support from the Kalliopeia Foundation, the Tukwila School District, the Tukwila Arts Commission, Judy Piggott, the Seattle Chapter of Bread for the Journey, Ruth Keating Lockwood and the Washington Women's Foundation, 4Culture/King County Lodging Tax Fund, the Washington State Arts Commission, and PONCHO.

Students in our 2011 project came from Bhutan, Bosnia, Brazil, Burma, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Mexico, Moldavia, Nepal, Russia, Somalia, Turkey, and Vietnam.

The students came to Jack Straw Productions and worked with our engineers and teaching artists to enhance their performance skills and record their poems. In April 2011, National Poetry Month, KBCS Community Radio broadcast the Stories of Arrival poems. We have archived all of the students' poems below for your listening pleasure.

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.

"In these poems, many voices have spoken with one heart. While each student has a unique story to tell, based on his or her experiences and memories, there are commonalities among the students that in a sense create 'one heart.' A heart full of memories and longing for friends, houses, gardens, and relatives that had to be left behind. A heart that misses the celebrations, colors, smells, sounds, and food of a motherland - village, small town, or city. A heart that is filled with loneliness and longing living in a refugee camp. A heart that has kept hold of strength, hope and resiliency, even as war, violence, and loss of loved ones have been part of a young life."
-Merna Hecht

"Through this shared experience, I have seen my class come together even more as a community. Students who are often shy or reluctant begin to speak out. Students share their anxieties and triumphs together through recording their poetry. Having students record their poetry for the radio is life changing."
-Carrie Stradley, ELL Teacher, Foster High School

Testimonials from Foster High School students:

"I appreciated that you guys gave us a chance to show our feelings and our thoughts into the studio."

"I learned how to work with the radio, and how to show my feelings in my poem to people. I'm glad that we worked together."

"I felt so excited because it is the first time that I hear my voice loud and real. It is so amazing."

"This program let my voice to reach other immigrant people."

"My classmates and I were so excited that we can show our emotions in our voice and let everyone listen to our real voice and real emotion."

Teaching artist Gin Hammond and Foster student
Mario Ciric
. All photos on this page by Sherwin Eng


Foster student Meron Shiferaw works with Jack Straw
teaching artist Gin Hammond

Jack Straw Engineer Moe Provencher and teaching artist Jennie Cecil Moore work in the studio with Foster students.

In April 2011 the Stories of Arrival poems were broadcast as part of National Poetry Month during the KBCS shows Morning Blend, One World Report, and Hard Knock Radio. You can listen to all of the poems below.

Stories of Arrival: Youth Voices 2011

Opening Narration:
Abdirashid with guitar:
Jin May:
Nargiza Mamedova song:
Kausila Budhathoki:
Farhiya Awed:
Kethellyn Vasileski:
Gopal Rai:
Mazhid Shakbazov:
Kamal Gulaliyev:
Nargiza Mamedova:
Mario Ciric:
Nemo Mohamed:
Nulifar Akhmedova:
Pau En Tuang:
Tek Kalfe:
Prem Khadka:
Anhthu Tran:
Sumani Gulailiyev:
Bhagi Biswa:
Abdirashid Abdi:
Maribel Gonzales:
Bhakti Rai:
Mary Niangbawi:
Cat-Nguyen Khanh Nguyen:
Meron Shiferaw:
Khadija Mohamed Ali:
Ngoc Minh Tran:
Khagendra Bhandari:
Nirmala Bhandari:
Kumar Khanal:
Shahed Kamal:
Marwan Abdulrahim:
Sharen Kamal:
Masse Gashay:
Vic Pinzari:
Nhat Tran:
Mary Niangbawi (song):
Tanka Gautam:
Nepali song:
Nhi Le:
Closing Narration:

Jack Straw engineer Tom Stiles works with foster student Masse Gashay.

Several Foster students record a song together


For further information on our educational programs, contact:

Joan Rabinowitz, Executive Director
Jack Straw Productions


Copyright 2014 Jack Straw Cultural Center~ All rights reserved