What’s your American Dream?

Faces from Weavetales’ New Americans public speaking program
New American Speakers Program public speaking students represent 8 different countries and more than 10 languages. Image Credit: WeaveTales

Raising the voices of refugees and immigrants through online training

USAHello is proud to co-sponsor the New American Speakers Program, an online program from WeaveTales that trains immigrants who want to develop their public speaking and storytelling skills.

Telling stories and setting goals

For Liya, a refugee from Eritrea, her American Dream is to become a trusted ally for refugees and help them speak about their experiences. For Sarmad, an asylum seeker from Iraq, it is to tell his stories of lifelong displacement through his art. For Mamadou, an immigrant from Guinea who moved to New York just last year, it is to pursue the goal of becoming a skilled architect. For Jumoke, an immigrant and nonprofit executive, it is to raise awareness about the problems of inequality and poverty in Nigeria and help those in need through his philanthropic work.

When we co-founded WeaveTales, Basma Alawee and I shared the vision that refugees and immigrants should be able to speak more freely and effectively about their stories of migration as they work toward their American Dreams. Sadly, the current political climate has made it extremely difficult for migrants from all walks of life to talk openly about their experiences of moving, longing, and integrating into American society. Despite the challenges, we believed that with the right tools and education in place, refugees and immigrants can overcome bias and hostile narratives.

Learning about public speaking

With the support from our sponsors – Emgage, MASA Foundation, Reyes Legal PLLC, GlobalJax and USAHello, –we launched the New American Speakers Program. In August, we selected 10 students to join our pilot cohort with a full scholarship package that includes tuition and a seed grant to develop and lead storytelling projects in their own communities. Upon successful completion, our students will be listed in our Speakers and Alumni Directory and referred to future speaking engagements.