18 April 2008

Through Our Eyes

Because DC was home base, visiting our amazing teams here became somewhat of a challenge. That is, the whole allure of a “road trip” was lost by the fact that I road the metro and pulled up on my feet. Still, that didn’t affect the incredible work of the young people I met.

A highlight of my “time” in DC was definitely visiting “Through Our Eyes.” Based out of a high school in Columbia Heights, these twenty plus students have come together to bring their frustrations about political issues and community problems to life using theater and dance.

They’re not complaining and they’re not nagging. Instead, they’re showing the human side of these problems. Take immigration, for example. Imagine a mother of four working full-time to give her children a better life than she had being taken from her children and deported after living and working here for more than ten years. Often times our understanding of the issue is oversimplified: Person lives here illegally, has children who are citizens, works hard and pays taxes, gets deported.

What happens next? The kids are left without a mother in their time of greatest need – childhood. “Through Our Eyes” helps to take people into this realm of understanding by telling the story “Through Their Eyes,” as children and young people who had nothing to do with creating the situation but who are affected more than anyone else by it. “It’s not about a political statement,” the leader told me, “it’s just about telling the human side of this story.

They also deal with issues like gang violence, teen pregnancy, discrimination and education, all in a way that makes the issues far more accessible than a newspaper article or TV report. In the last three months they’ve grown from five members to more than twenty and plan to include dozens more next year. Even more exciting – their first show is in three weeks and tickets are nearly sold out. What they’re doing is so incredibly important, because it’s often too easy to disconnect the policy itself and the people that policy affects. Well done.


Kyle Taylor

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