AANM exhibit showcases photos from middle schoolers

Photo by Daniel Heraty

Student artists on display
Ellie Quist, from Holland, Mich., examines a photograph July 6 taken by a McCollough-Unis School student for the Arab-American National Museum’s “The Living Textbook” display. The exhibit is on display until Aug. 4 at the museum.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – Visitors to the Arab-American National Museum,13624 Michigan Ave., can catch a glimpse of how middle-school children in the area see the world.

“In the Heart of Arab America: A Middle School Perspective,” displays photos taken by seventh-grade journalism students from McCollough-Unis School while teaching them about journalism.

The exhibit opened July 2 and will run through August 14.

The showcase is part of a program called “The Living Textbook,” funded by the Robert B. McCormick Foundation in Chicago and the Ford Foundation in New York. The project, now a class at the school, allows students to use writing, video and photography to tell stories of their lives. April Kincaid, a social studies teacher at the school, said the students were excited that people were reading their stories, and commenting on an online blog.

She said that the students were given the option to write and photograph what they wanted, resulting in a variety of different submissions.

Initially, Kincaid said she was nervous about teaching the class, but was drawn to it after finding out it was hands on.

“I was worried,” she said. “There’s a lot of aspects to (journalism), not just writing. I didn’t know what it was going to encompass.” She added that the project also took up most of her free time.

“I had to give up my prep hour. From February to June, I had no breaks,” she said.

Emilia Askari, co-director of the program, said that she has always been interested in mentoring young journalists, and was a co-director of the Young Journalists Program at the Detroit Free Press. She said that Dinah Eng, a former president of the Asian American Journalists Association, selected Dearborn as the preferred destination for the exhibit, because of its large Arab-American community.

She said that there are hopes that the project will expand, if more funding becomes available.

“We’re hoping to create a dialogue with schools in the Middle East,” she said.

Anyone interested in reading the stories can visit www.livingtextbook.aaja.org.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at dheraty@bewickpublications.com.)