Monday, 06 March 2017 21:49

Group hopes to empower New Americans through storytelling

Elizabeth Gamarra (second from left) presents the idea for the Waves Project with her teammates at the WLI graduation ceremony in December. PHOTO BY: DAVID RICKETTS||| Elizabeth Gamarra (second from left) presents the idea for the Waves Project with her teammates at the WLI graduation ceremony in December. PHOTO BY: DAVID RICKETTS||| |||

By Elizabeth Gamarra

The WAVES Project was born in 2016 through the Westside Leadership Institute course. Our group was interested in a project that celebrates the customs, traditions and cultures of New Americans in Utah. Therefore, we created an online academic journal with a collection of true stories written by people who have overcome challenges associated with becoming New Americans.

We chose the name WAVES for this collection of stories because waves dynamically change and shift in new directions and horizons, while still forming part of the ocean – a representation of strength and life. The acronym WAVES stands for Wonderful, Accomplished, Visionary and Emerging Storytellers.

Oftentimes when New Americans resettle or migrate to the United States, it becomes a challenge for them to preserve their customs, traditions and culture, especially as they integrate and acculturate into mainstream society. This project addresses cultural preservation, which involves the need to protect, restore, and honor all forms of cultural diversity. This is an important element for the growth and expansion of all communities.

The WAVES Project allows community members to share ways they have been able to overcome barriers to retaining their culture, and how they have preserved their autonomy. This collection of different voices speaks to diversity, social justice and non-western views of the world.

The WAVES Project is still in development, but if you would like to learn more and/or get involved, email Elizabeth Gamarra at .

Elizabeth was born in Lima, Peru. She is graduate student at the College of Social Work, University of Utah. After graduate school she hopes to work toward advancing human rights. She is the former Martin Luther King Jr. Drum Major Award.