Journey2Unity: Art Creating Change

The Arts Street at Youth Employment Academy (YEA) Journey to Unity project was selected for an Arts in Society grant in 2017.

The collaborative endeavor was created by Denver area high school-aged youth in the summer of 2018. By learning new skills, building on intrinsic strengths and working with local mentors and community groups, the Arts Street@YEA Summer Interns worked together, exploring the potential to change negative opinions and strengthen positive perceptions about immigration in our shared communities through the medium of a new podcast, which can be accessed on their website. The podcast showcases stories from local residents about their personal experiences of immigration, finding home and creating community.

By partnering with local nonprofit community outreach organization (and fellow Arts in Society grantee) Birdseed Collective in Globeville, and Denver Housing Authority, Arts Street Summer Interns experimented with a variety of artistic mediums and tools, ranging from storytelling with podcasts to community service to multimedia art projects. The thread tying the project together was a desire to document a variety of immigration and life stories from local residents, in their own words.

Summer interns utilized the free StoryCorps app to interview an inter-generational group from the local community, and called it the Journey to Unity podcast.

The new podcast promotes empathy and understanding for those who have little or no voice in the overall immigration discussion currently happening in the United States of America.


You can listen to the podcasts recorded created by Arts Street@YEA Summer Interns in 2018 on their new website and you should check back frequently for updates as it is a work in progress: http://journey2unity.weebly.com/


This summer we put together a team to take a look at immigration issues, listen to stories, and witness first-hand the beauty in different cultures. Our goal was to create a project, through art and creativity, make a positive outlook on immigration. Our biggest project this summer was our mural in the Sun Valley Denver Housing Authority neighborhood. For this project we got to talk to some residents in Sun Valley from different cultures and hear their personal immigration stories. We also got to look at fabrics, clothing, and jewelry that represent their cultures best, and overall get a better understanding of what they think the world should know about immigration.

Being able to hear these stories truly makes you take a step back and feel compassion for not only these individuals, but the thousands of other immigrants who go unheard every day. With the information and different textiles we obtained from the Sun Valley community, we set out to create our own designs, based off the textiles, for the mural. We made fourteen different designs for the fourteen pillars outside of the Sun Valley Community Center. With this mural, we gave the community an opportunity to express their unique cultures within the United States of America, where often they are forced to be “Americanized”. We felt it was our way of saying thank you for making America diverse and beautiful.

Our next project was our word project. For our word project, each member of our team selected a word we thought represented our idea of immigration, we then painted and decorated our words and put them out in the world for everyone to see. This project was definitely one of my favorites because, so often Americans get the wrong idea of immigrants, and often immigrants get the wrong idea of America. With this project we got to remind everyone that immigration is a beautiful thing, it’s what makes America...America.


- as told by Liliana Frappied, age 17, Arts Street@YEA Summer Intern, Cohort 2

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As we came to the end of our summer internship we had to overcome both small and big challenges. At the end it was all fun and worth it. With the “Community Unity Jam” event in Globeville around the corner, there was a lot of stress and projects we had to get done together. With that said, not only did we have to worry about finishing everything up for the event, but we also had our personal projects due, which included our immigration story flags and our edited podcasts of interviews with community members on their experiences of immigration.

We were able to rely on each other and help each other but at the end it was definitely up to us to get it done. The pressure was on us to get our podcasts done and edited but that wasn’t easy because of technical difficulties. Not only was it difficult to learn how to place it all together but the Wi-Fi was not the best as well. The flag project was also hard because it was challenging to come up with creative ideas on our own. Together as a team we were able to overcome and achieve all of our goals.

- as told by Bryant DeLeon-Rodriguez, age 15, Arts Street@YEA Summer Intern, Cohort 1

 Arts Street@YEA Summer Interns worked collaboratively to complete their community projects.

Arts Street@YEA Summer Interns worked collaboratively to complete their community projects.

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