"Many of my students are not just feeling the tension between childhood and maturity, but often also between foreign and American cultures, native and acquired languages, and the lure of the street against their morality. The Identity Project used movement/ physicality, poetry, photography, and performance as a lens through which these students could express and discover their sense of who they are. It was a profoundly meaningful experience to the students who participated in it, many of whom have remained in touch. Alesandra helped my students find a sense of pride in their accomplishments as people and as artists. They were hesitant at first, but she guided them through many different forms of expression until they became enthusiastic participants. They trusted her, and believed when she told them they could make great things. They performed city wide, and published a book, and they know that they are artists."
Director of Performing Arts
Roger Williams Middle School
The Identity Project was first conceived and implemented in 2011 by artist educator Alesandra Zsiba during a year of service with AmeriCorps. Initially, Alesandra designed The Identity Project as an arts intervention program for the Dominican-American ELL students at Roger Williams Middle School in Providence, RI. The program's sole purpose was to harness the power of personal narrative to heal, reveal, unearth, and lift up the voices of young people struggling to be heard. In 2011, Roger Williams was a Title 1 turnaround school, in which over 90% of the students received free or reduced price lunch. Over 80% of Roger's students spoke a language other than English at home, and more than half received English as a Second Language, Bilingual English/Spanish, or Special Education services. During her year of service, Alesandra led four sections of The Identity Project with 6th-8th graders, reaching over 50 students school-wide.