The Museum’s fundamental commitment to education, arts, culture and history is reflected in both our past and current programs, and our long-term planning.
The Oral and Visual History Project
Personal stories of the immigrant experience are a vital component of the New Americans Museum’s efforts to illuminate the many facets of contemporary immigration to the United States. The Oral and Visual Histories Project is intended to collect and preserve these narratives. An advisory council of scholars, immigrant leaders, and media experts will provide ongoing guidance. The archived stories will make accounts of the immigrant experience readily available to family descendents and researchers as well as the general public. The histories will be available at the Museum and on our web site, in audio and digital video format, and as part of interactive exhibitions. This project is slated for substantial growth in 2009, as it represents a core collection for the Museum.
Family Histories Essay Competition
Stories of Migration to the United States – This flagship program has been supported by the Parker Foundation; Bank of America; Sempra Energy, and, in association with The San Diego Foundation, the Waitt Family Foundation’s Digital Divide Fund and The Hom Family Fund. One of the Museum’s primary objectives is to encourage pride and a sense of belonging among the youngest generations of immigrants. Over the past six years, more than 1,000 San Diego area students, representing 59 schools and more than 80 countries, have authored stories of their families’ immigration to the United States and described what it means to be a New American. Essay winners received scholarships ranging from $200 to $2,000 in addition to new laptop computers. The program has awarded $60,000 to local students since the program’s inception. The essay program collaborated with the San Diego Unified School District and the San Diego Community College District to align the competition directly with classroom standards and goals. All winning stories are documented and archived for future Museum exhibits and publications.
Reflecting the spirit of our museum, exhibitions will examine both historic and contemporary immigration to the United States, while also serving as a bridge to partnership with our diverse communities.
Future Leaders Internship Program
Young people are transformed when they recognize both their potential and their responsibilities as citizens of our democracy. Working side-by-side with New Americans Museum staff, youth from diverse backgrounds gain professional skills and knowledge through this program that will enable them to join the leadership ranks of non-profit organizations. Through volunteerism and executive guidance, a sense of pride and accomplishment provides our interns the skills and experience needed.
Cultural celebrations, films, lectures and festivals of immigrant traditions are central to the Museum’s mission. The Museum partners with local organizations to engage the greater San Diego community in our region’s cultural celebrations. Long range plans include an annual festival celebrating the great cultural traditions of new Americans through food and visual and performing arts. NAM has been successful in building community partnerships and we seek to establish a more significant community footprint, especially as a neutral facilitator of dialogue on sensitive issues.
Conferences, Seminars and Public Dialogue
The New Americans Museum has to date hosted two major conferences and two seminars on themes related to the immigration experience. Over 500 attendees have joined with the Museum’s leadership at these conferences and seminars that explored aspects of immigration, including transnational communities and the role of global remittances in community development, among other topics. The Museum will build on this tradition in the coming years by working with our universities and sponsoring conferences and colloquia that delve deeper into topics related to immigration. We hope to eventually become a primary hub of knowledge for immigration research and data. Funded by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, the museum is currently developing a dialogue program to engage high school students in conversations about immigration issues in their community.