On October 17, Bank Street Graduate School of Education alumni and friends gathered at the New York Hall of Science in Queens to kick off the Across the Bridges event series, an alumni engagement program that provides an opportunity for graduates to network with fellow alumni, participate in meaningful discussions, and build community.
Hosted by Bank Street College Alumni Association (BSCAA), the event examined the intersection of science, culture, and community, highlighting a collaborative research project by Bank Street, the New York Hall of Science, and the local neighborhood of Corona in Queens that explores the question, “Donde Vive la Ciencia en su Comunidad? / Where Does Science Live in Your Community?” The photovoice project, which combines photography and storytelling, features photographs with captions by Corona residents to illustrate how science exists and impacts daily life.
“Our project team was pleased to join the Across the Bridges event to share how research can be used to create community, engage in inquiry, and uplift groups that have been historically excluded from conversations,” said Cristina Medellin-Paz, Associate Director, Straus Center for Young Children & Families, who helped lead the initiative. “Through their photos, the stories of families from our co-researchers were a form of healing, demonstration, and a call to action. We hope these accounts will connect, inspire, and transform the way that educational institutions like Bank Street can support community development through work that centers education and justice.”
Arriving from all corners of New York City and beyond, the event welcomed 57 attendees.
After guests arrived and explored museum exhibits, Katie McMillian Culp, Chief Learning Officer, New York Hall of Science, shared opening remarks on the collaborative work and partnership with Bank Street. Next, Medellin-Paz, as well as staff from the New York Hall of Science and the Straus Center for Young Children & Families, discussed the photovoice process and the themes that emerged, such as that science can be connected to community well-being, connection to the community, and resistance through knowledge. These themes highlight larger social justice issues families are currently experiencing in their community.
Additionally, families who participated in the project as photovoice community co-researchers took to the stage to share their experiences. Language interpretation was provided to support the translation of Spanish, the first language for many Corona residents.
Flaviana, a Corona resident who participated in the project, asked, “¿Porque las escuelas públicas no pueden tener jardines? Donde nuestros niños tendrán la oportunidad de sembrar, cosechar sus propios vegetales y estar en contacto con la naturaleza. / Why can’t public schools have gardens? Where do our children have the opportunity to plant, harvest their own vegetables, and be in contact with nature?” demonstrating her inquiry for community well-being through gardening.
Following the presentation, attendees enjoyed a reception in the interactive Connected Worlds Exhibit, an immersive experience that allows visitors to use their own actions, movements, and decisions to determine the use of resources in the environment and consider the future of our world.
“We are proud to host our Across the Bridges event series and provide a valuable space for the Bank Street community to come together to learn and share insights around important topics in education,” said Michelle Fizer Peterson, Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement, Development and Alumni Relations Office. “We look forward to facilitating more enriching programs at our upcoming events throughout the 2023-24 school year.”