Alesandra Zsiba (Spring 2017)
As Founding Artist & Director of The Identity Project, an arts laboratory for underserved youth, Alesandra’s pedagogical approach celebrates educating the whole student, and introduces the arts as a method of cultivating self-made meaning in learning and life. Through a specialized curriculum in documentary storytelling and critically reflective identity work, The Identity Project tackles poverty-related barriers to identity development on the most fundamental level. By championing students' personal narrative, and exploring voice through varied modalities of storytelling, this work uses creativity as a catalyst for healing and empowerment. In 2016, The Identity Project received the grand prize at LaunchU, Oberlin College's accelerator program and pitch competition for alumni entrepreneurs.
Alesandra graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Performance, and is currently working towards a Master's in English Literature with an emphasis in youth literacy at Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English. In the spring of 2017, Alesandra will be rolling out an exciting new iteration of The Identity Project entitled the Urban Native Youth Pilot Program. This iteration reflects a new partnership with the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, and is designed to cultivate empowerment and illuminate the voices of Indigenous youth of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The Identity Project is an innovative educational laboratory that utilizes documentary arts to address poverty-related barriers to identity development in underserved youth. Grounded in a pedagogical framework that is, at it’s core, an asset pedagogy, The Identity Project is built on two innovative pillars of inquiry, documentary storytelling and critically reflective identity work. Over the course of an implementation, students are guided through three learning phases in documentary arts -- including poetry, photography and performance -- in order to enrich their sense of voice and ultimately deepen their feelings of self-worth and empowerment. The Identity Project’s Urban Native Youth Pilot Program represents an exciting shift in the trajectory of this work, introducing a focus on urban Native American youth living in Santa Fe, NM. This unique documentary arts laboratory engages Native youth in a wide variety of documentary storytelling modalities, awakening their capacity for originality and guiding them through the process of overcoming traumatic memory. The Urban Native Youth Pilot Program is slated to roll out in the spring semester of 2017, and is made possible by the support of our partners; Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, and Native American Students Services of Santa Fe Public Schools.