Immigrant and Refugee Teens as Cultural Leaders


Author/Creator ORCID





MA in Cultural Sustainability

Citation of Original Publication


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My research focuses on adolescent immigrants and refugees in diverse American communities, exploring potential avenues to strengthen these communities by engaging immigrant teens in cultural programs at Children's Museums. I have conducted academic research on this topic and provide an in-depth review and analysis in the first section of this document. While comprehensive, my academic research left some questions unanswered, and so I proceeded with a series of interviews with adolescent immigrants and refugees in the Portland, Maine community. This is followed by a Case Study and Analysis of Culture Scholars, an educational program for immigrant teens at the Children's Museum & Theatre of Maine. I then designed a replicable model for other Children's Museums to use in their development of a similar program for immigrant teens. This work has great implications for the field of Cultural Sustainability, and so I have also included the relevance of my study and its practical application for use in the field. While I aim to maintain awareness of my particular position in the social hierarchy of my community and work, there is always ample opportunity to be reminded of my own ignorance. Perhaps the greatest personal gain in my work with my community is simply to be repeatedly reminded of my own positioning -- and repositioning -- in relation to others around me. My goal is to increase this visibility of self-awareness in both myself and others, using it as a tool in public spaces to strengthen connectivity and mitigate social isolationism. As I work full-time at a Children's Museum, I focus on youth and family-centered programs and their particular role in shaping communities. My scope is specific, with the intention of discovering widely applicable insights.