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Home Project Phase One

Most people know me as either the Tour and Rentals Coordinator, or now, as the Tour Manager here at Green Thumb, but I also have a background in facilitation. In 2018, I completed an M.Ed in Arts for Social Change at SFU, and lucky for me this was around the same time that Green Thumb was in the planning stages of The Home Project. I was very excited about the project and the chance to give voice to diverse youth around their ideas of home, and wanted to be involved in whatever capacity I could be. In the end, I was lucky enough to be able to co-facilitate our first round of sessions with the amazing Jackson Tse!

I really enjoy working with secondary aged youth. It’s a time in their life when they are starting to form their own view of the world independent of their parents and teachers, combining all the knowledge and experiences they have gained from those sources and from their peers, but also shaped by their own growing social consciousness. I am often blown away by their insights and willingness to share, and the youth involved in The Home Project were no exception. We visited two very different schools in the Lower Mainland- Lord Byng in the West Side of Vancouver and Frank Hurt in Surrey – and it was fascinating to notice the differences and commonalties in the lived experiences of the students.

Both schools included a diverse array of participants.Some were second generation Canadians, others the first in their families to be born here. Many had immigrated at a young age, and some had only been in Canada for a few years. Their concept and memories of home were just as diverse as their backgrounds. For some, home was a building, for others a geographical location. For some, being with family felt like home, for others their friends made them feel most at home.

The stories that stuck out the most for me were those about food. As a Canadian of Ukrainian descent, food is a huge part of my concept of home and culture. For some of the participants, cultural food or food that was made by parents or grandparents was what they connected with a sense of home. But for quite a few participants, it was a favourite restaurant visited with family or friends that resonated most with them. In particular, I remember one participant’s passionate ode to Earls!

In the approximately 3 hours that we spent with each group of students, we shared many memories with each other. Some were exciting,some were painful, and many were bittersweet. But the most rewarding part of facilitating these sessions in which everyone shared so generously, was the near unanimous response from the participants that they had learned more about each other in these few hours than they had in all their time together in school. They seemed genuinely excited to share their stories and insights, and to listen to the stories and insights of their peers. This was the first phase of many, but because the students were all so excited by the project and the idea of their stories being turned into a verbatim play we are hosting a private reading of the play thus far this week.

Aliya Griffin, Facilitator

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