By: Rochielle Canare, MD Middle & High School Program Coordinator
Photos courtesy of AALEAD Staff
The first month of MD after-school programs this year was filled with fresh faces, food, and Filipina/o/x American history. At Parkland Middle School, youth engaged in Filipina/o/x American History Month (FAHM) by learning about prominent Fil-Am figures. Youth broke into groups to read up on one of the following Filipino Americans: farm labor organizer Larry Itliong, fierce rapper Ruby Ibarra, historian and FAHM establisher “Auntie” Dorothy Cordova, and children’s author Erin Entrada Kelly. Groups created posters of their figures, ensured each member led a part of the presentation, and then fielded questions from their peers.
After learning about Filipina rapper Ruby Ibarra, middle school youth Maikah said she went home and listened to Ruby’s entire album. At our next program day, she said she really enjoyed Ruby’s songs because “sometimes rappers make songs about whatever, but [Ruby’s] songs were meaningful and were about important issues. I could relate to them.” Another youth added how he liked learning about Filipinos who were activists. For a majority of the youth, this was the first time they saw themselves in history. They shared how impactful it was to see people who looked like them and had stories they connected with.
During a presentation on FAHM at Wheaton High School, youth made connections to colonialism and assimilation with their own experiences. One youth shared an example of their family having preference for Western products over products local to their family’s home country, despite the products being exactly the same.
Youth at Parkland MS and Wheaton HS also learned how to make a Filipino dessert called turon – a plantain-filled egg roll that is fried and caramelized. After wrapping and frying their own turon, youth had a dialogue about similarities they found between the food or FAHM and their family’s culture.
From wrapping turon to rapping Filipinas, youth had a blast in their first month of after-school programs and are looking forward to what’s next as we head into November!