In My Mother Tongue

Abdi SWIS News

This unique and interesting multilingual poetry project is a partnership program between the Koffler Centre of the Arts and Culturelink SWIS (Settlement Workers in Schools) program. The project aims to foster passion for learning in ones own language through the arts, while acknowledging cultural significance and oral story telling traditions of the indigenous, newcomer and refugee communities. It offers inclusive space for newcomer youth (age 14 to 17) to engage and explore through the process of creative thinking and dialogue and self expression that help in gaining greater self-esteem through increased literacy in their mother tongue, and in English.

It has been an exciting time for our newcomer youth, the opportunity to partake in something different from routine classroom settings. Culturelink SWIS newcomer youth from various high schools, with four different language backgrounds (Tagalog, Arabic, Spanish and Mandarin) have been involved in this creative collaborative process over an 8-9 week period. The youth have been listening and interacting with selected artists and poet mentors in big and smaller groups, learning to express themselves through written and spoken poetry in their own mother tongue. The project helps draw upon personal narratives and experiences and supports the youth to build deeper connections to language and culture, and express themselves through written and spoken poetry in their own mother tongue, and in English.

At the end of this project will see the youth share their written pieces in an informal performance, celebrate their work, language and cultural identity with the public on May 6th at the Koffler Centre. The first three workshops took place at Culturelink with the remaining phases of the workshop are happening at Koffler Centre of the Arts at Artscape Youngplace at 180 Shaw Street, Toronto.


Tsewang Lhadon