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Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Narratio Fellowship Receives Support from Humanities New York

HNY grant will help fund resettled refugee youth fellows’ production of autobiographical films about life during the pandemic and the pursuit of social justice.

July 15, 2020, by Dan Bernardi

Fidaa Aljabbari, Eid Ahmed and Abshir Habseme
2019 Narratio Fellows, Fidaa Aljabbari, Eid Ahmed and Abshir Habseme, participating in an audio recording workshop at the North Side Learning Center.

Brice Nordquist, associate professor of writing studies, rhetoric and composition and Dean’s Professor of Community Engagement in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), is a recipient of a Humanities New York (HNY) Action Grant. HNY Action Grants support humanities projects that encourage public audiences to reflect on their values, explore new ideas, and engage with others in their community. Nordquist’s award will fund this year’s Narratio Fellowship, with additional financial resources from A&S, Syracuse University Humanities Center, and Wesleyan University’s Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship.

Launched in 2019, in collaboration the Humanities Center and the North Side Learning Center (NSLC) in Syracuse, the Narratio Fellowship provides local refugee youth with opportunities to explore and represent a full range of their own histories and experiences through artistic expression.

According to Nordquist, the matching grant from HNY will help the program build on its successful inaugural campaign. “Receiving support from Humanities New York not only allows us to offer more resources and opportunities to this year’s cohort of Narratio Fellows, but also expands the audience of the fellows’ work and our network of collaborators to public humanities organizations across the state,” he says.

Jamal Bilata
Jamal Bilata, 2019 Narratio Fellow, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This summer's NYC trip has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fellowship is a four-week intensive storytelling and leadership program aimed at providing resettled refugee youth in the Syracuse, NY, area with the tools and resources to share their narratives and creative works on the world stage. The fellowship usually accepts eight to ten participants, ages 17 to 21, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s cohort has been reduced to five to ensure safe distances in NSLC classrooms.

This year’s summer session will run from July 20 to August 21 and will feature a hybrid format to limit the duration of face-to-face contact. Instead of conducting workshops at Syracuse University and various local museums and galleries, all sessions will take place at the NSLC.

Ana Maria Vîdjea
Artist-in-residence, Ana Maria Vîdjea, a Fulbright alumna and transmedia M.F.A. candidate, will work with the fellows to produce autobiographical films.

Artist-in-residence, Ana Maria Vîdjea, a filmmaker, Fulbright alumna and transmedia M.F.A. candidate in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and other workshop leaders will engage with the group virtually and will work with fellows one-on-one at the NSLC.

“Vîdjea will work with the fellows to produce autobiographical films about their day-to-day lives during the pandemic and in the context of Black Lives Matter and the pursuit of racial justice,” says Nordquist.

As a culmination to the four-week summer program, the cohort usually travels to New York City to share their work at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and meet with professionals at the United Nations, The New York Times, and Squarespace. While the trip has been postponed for summer 2020 because of the pandemic, Nordquist is hopeful to reschedule for late spring or summer 2021.

For the rest of the 2020-21 academic year, fellows will take part in numerous public virtual events, including film premieres, screenings and panel discussions, and will also receive individual college transition support. The year will conclude with a virtual event in spring 2021 connected to this year’s Humanities Center Syracuse Symposium: Futures.