Approximately 3,000 people recently were able to view the Columbus Crossing Borders Project (CCBP), thanks to a new collaborative venture to bring the exhibit to the community. Westerville Crossing Borders (WCB) is comprised of representatives from four community organizations that support Westerville City Schools (WCS): Westerville Education Foundation (WEF), Westerville Education Challenge, Westerville Parent Council, and Westerville Partners for Education (WPE).
Because of WCB’s efforts, nearly 1,200 attendees at Westerville’s Annual Community Culture Celebration on Sunday, September 30, and more than 1,600 WCS students viewed the art exhibit. Field trips to view the exhibit at The Point at Otterbein University took place from October 1-4.
“The Columbus Crossing Borders Project is about caring – caring about humanity, caring about justice and caring about the truth,” said CCBP Director Laurie VanBalen. “Being invited to bring the project to the Westerville community for a celebration of diversity, unity and caring is as good as it gets.”
This caring is what motivated 34 artists and a film crew to create a 34-piece art exhibit and documentary film that has been traveling the country for more than 18 months to inspire understanding, compassion and support for the millions in our world who have been forced to flee their homes as refugees.
“Supporting our new American families and students, as well as creating awareness about the diversity in our district, was something that we all felt was important,” said WEF Executive Director Colleen Moidu. The District has nearly 1,400 English Learners who speak 55 languages and represent 63 different countries. Somali is the language most commonly spoken by English Learners in WCS, followed by Spanish and Nepali.
Moidu also serves as coordinator of WCB and as a Board Member for Community Refugee and Immigration Services, which was a partner in the creation of the Columbus Crossing Borders Project. She worked with educators to coordinate the student trips to the exhibit, and said many pupils shared how personal the experience was for them. Many of the teachers and students who attended the art exhibit and viewed the documentary are tying the experience into projects within their curriculum to continue the conversation.
Funding for the student trips and related projects was provided by generous community sponsors for Westerville Crossing Borders including Education First Credit Union, Blair IT, Mount Carmel St. Ann’s, the Portale Agency - Allstate. Nationwide Children’s Hospital was the Art Exhibit Sponsor and the Westerville Public Library sponsored the documentary, which was shown at the Community Culture Day Celebration and in classroom across the district. For an extended version of this story, please visit https://www.westervilleeducationfoundation.com/news/detail/pid/25/id/73
For more information about Westerville Crossing Borders, contact Colleen Moidu at ExecutiveDirector@WestervilleEducationFoundation.com. Learn more about the Columbus Crossing Borders Project at www.columbuscrossingbordersproject.com.