Documentary: Wenjiashan Village School

In 2016, 281 million Chinese people from rural areas migrated to cities for labor jobs. Among these, 13.94 million are children. In addition, 17.26 million children were left behind in the rural areas.

Either migrant or left-behind, these children have been put in a disadvantaged position and have attracted national attention due to their large numbers. But if we do the math, out of the 94.86 million compulsory-school-age children living in rural areas, the aggregation of migrant and left-behind children only account for 33% of the entire rural children population.

This means that a much larger proportion of the rural children are not being studied. They are “ordinary” children, who might not have the experience of migration or being left behind, but yet, are also impacted by the massive rural-urban migration in their country.

Children from Wenjiashan Village in northern China in this video belong to this group of “ordinary” children. This village school has 53 students and 5 teachers across five preschool-4th grade classes.

The authors Changhong Zhang and Yixin Zhang made this short documentary film to understand what children, teachers and administrators in a typical rural village in China think about their education and their future.

Proyecto Carrito Caravan, Days 2-3

Toledo, OH to Chicago, IL to Boulder, CO — An impromptu presentation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago capped this two-day, thousand-mile stretch. Hours before we were scheduled to depart Chicago, we were invited to present to Drea Howenstein‘s class, titled “Art as Social Force,” in SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries.

Mario Ernesto Osorio and Tamera Marko in SAIC's Sullivan Galleries.
Mario Ernesto Osorio and Tamera Marko in SAIC’s Sullivan Galleries.

We were honored to join this multidisciplinary group on their first day in the Sullivan Galleries, as they were just getting a feel for the space and preparing to install their exhibits.

Mario Ernesto Osorio discussed his perspectives on how education influences perceptions of immigration, calling for children, beginning from kindergarten, to be taught more accurate information about why people immigrate to the United States—in many cases, he said, because social or economic conditions in their home countries left them with no other choice.

Mario Ernesto Osorio discusses connections between education and immigration.
Mario Ernesto Osorio discusses connections between education and immigration.

“There’s always some nervousness,” Mario said afterward, “because you don’t know what kind of audience you’re going to find.”

But in the end, Mario said that he felt the class did connect with our project, and understand what we’re trying to achieve.

“They were very attentive to the videos we showed and to what we were saying,” he said, “asking us questions and showing their interest.”

Drea Howenstein's class at SAIC watches a Proyecto Carrito video.
Drea Howenstein’s class at SAIC watches a Proyecto Carrito video.

After wrapping up at SAIC, we set off for our next presentation in Boulder, Colorado, driving over 1,000 miles through the night. Thank you to all of our donors who have made this Caravan possible! Donating is quick and easy, and gives you an inside look into the Caravan, through daily video updates sent right to your inbox.


With two-thirds of our drive done, and several more presentations to go, we’re thrilled with our progress and excited for what’s next.

The Proyecto Carrito Caravan is a group of janitors driving their stories of immigration from Boston to San Diego. For more information about the Caravan, please contact Ryan Catalani at A press kit, including a fact sheet and full-resolution images, is available to download.



Introducing the Proyecto Carrito Caravan, a group of immigrant janitors driving their stories across the country

In October, we’re excited to launch the Proyecto Carrito Caravan: janitors driving from Boston to San Diego in a car literally wrapped with their stories of immigration. These stories are by writers who, because of their status as immigrants and janitors, say they often feel invisible in their cities and workplaces.

Right now, it’s too easy to talk about immigration, not immigrants. With the Caravan, we want to help people from diverse backgrounds recognize how much they have in common.

Donate to the Caravan, and read more about it, at

The stories featured in the Caravan emerged from our internationally-recognized weekly writing class at Emerson College. For the last six years, it has been one of the only college courses in the US that integrates janitors, students, professors, and staff around the same table.

Along the 4,500-mile Caravan route, we’ll make six public stops: Syracuse, New York; Boulder and Denver, Colorado; and Los Angeles, Irvine, and San Diego, California.


We’re currently raising money to fund the immigrant janitors and the Caravan team. If you donate over $15, you’ll get daily video updates from along the Caravan. And if you donate more, you can get postcards along the journey, a special Caravan shirt, and a copy of the Proyecto Carrito anthology, which has our writing from the last six years.

A limited-edition Proyecto Carrito Caravan shirt
A limited-edition Proyecto Carrito Caravan shirt
The Proyecto Carrito anthology
The Proyecto Carrito anthology

For the Caravan, we’re publishing our work on a car for two reasons. First, it allows the storytellers, the immigrant janitors, to travel with their stories. Second, some of the workers crossed the US border in cars, so our car is a physical manifestation of those stories.

With the Caravan, we’re calling for more humane, compassionate, and inclusive immigration and education policies. We believe that creating lasting change will begin with improving how our schools teach children about immigration. After the Caravan concludes, we’ve been invited to talk about the experience at the Thomas R. Watson Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

For more information, please contact Ryan Catalani at A press kit, including a fact sheet and full-resolution images, is available to download.

Mobility directors launch new summer program with Emerson College

Starting this summer, Emerson College students will be able to live and work in Medellín, Colombia for a month, creating documentary videos in collaboration with internally displaced women and families. Global Pathways: Colombia is one of 14 faculty-led programs offered by Emerson this summer.

The videos that Emerson students make will become part of our My Home | Mi Hogar archive. Since 2008, My Home | Mi Hogar has recorded, published, and choreographed conversations around the stories of Colombians who were forced to flee their homes due to violence and rebuild their neighborhoods in Medellín. They tell their own stories of displacement and resilience in their own words and images from their family albums—which are, in many cases, the only records of how communities, with their own hands, built the city of Medellín. My Home | Mi Hogar now has over 7,000 hours of footage from over 250 storytellers, and is Colombia’s largest archive of internally displaced people’s stories.

The city of Medellín, Colombia.
The city of Medellín, Colombia.

Now, we’re excited to start a new chapter in My Home | Mi Hogar with Emerson students. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, Emerson is one of the country’s only colleges dedicated to communications and the arts in a liberal arts context, making its students a natural fit to collaborate with these Colombian storytellers. Global Pathways: Colombia faculty director, and Mobility Movilidad founding director, Tamera Marko, Ph.D. is a senior lecturer in Emerson’s department of Writing, Literature, and Publishing. On-site coordinator, and Mobility Movilidad founding director, Ryan Catalani is a 2011 graduate of Emerson.

My Home | Mi Hogar was started eight years ago with students from Duke University, who went to Medellín through DukeEngage, the university’s summer civic engagement program. From the summers of 2008 to 2015, DukeEngage students created over 100 short documentaries and developed relationships with communities in Medellín that, through our new partnership with Emerson, we are looking forward to deepening and expanding.

Emerson students can receive four course credits through Global Pathways: Colombia, which will take place from July 20 – August 17, 2016. The program cost is $3,467, which includes tuition, housing, and most meals. Read more and apply.

‘Through Our Eyes III’ artist exhibits in Roxbury

JALEXANDERJose Alexander Caicedo Castaño, one of the artists in Mobility Movilidad’s Through Our Eyes III exhibit (2013), has a new show at Roxbury Community College‘s Joan Resnikoff Gallery. Titled “Carrying the Load” and curated by Mirta Tocci, Jose Alexander’s work will be on display from October 16 to November 6, 2015.


In Through Our Eyes III, Jose Alexander exhibited a multimedia project called “Bearing the Burden: Aesthetic Imaginaries of the Woman Victim of Territorial Conflict in Medellín’s Comuna Ocho Neighborhood.” This formed part of his master’s thesis at the National University of Colombia in Medellín. He wrote about his work:

Pinares de Oriente is a human settlement, situated on the mountain ridge Pan de Azúcar in the city of Medellin. This place is high risk because of the possibility of tropical rain-induced landslides and the vulnerability of being far up, isolated from the city center and its resources down below. Between 1940 and 1950, many families or individuals have self-settled in the neighborhoods of Comuna Nororiental. They came because they were displaced, forced to flee their rural towns due to violence. From the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, the armed conflict in Colombia caused massive migration of the nation’s population. The largest number of displaced people are from rural areas of Colombia. The process of displacement creates a transition between a rural society and an urban society. People also engage in an aesthetic process of transition, forming productive, interconnected roots like that of an orchard, a rhizome.

Because people must occupy the land illegally, the neighborhoods and their residents have an anonymous quality. That is, they know they are not supposed to live there, according to the law—yet they have no other place to go. In these neighborhoods, women have a leading role in this rural-urban transition, weaving social imaginaries, remaining adaptable and staying in a hostile territory. At the same time, it is a promise of continuing in one’s own habitat, one’s own home. It is a meaningful mixture of what they left behind in their rural life, including growing their own food, and the new goals of including themselves as productive individuals of community life that the City of Medellin demands.

DukeEngage Colombia students learn about Medellín history and culture

Medellín, Colombia — From a museum dedicated to preserving Colombia’s historical memories and furthering the peace process, to public transportation projects that now connect Medellín’s outlying neighborhoods to downtown, students from DukeEngage Colombia spent their first week here learning about the city’s culture and history of art, resilience, and innovation.

Medellín Visits

Students saw the old railroad station that once connected the city to the rest of the country; walked through Plaza Botero, home of 23 sculptures by the famed Colombian artist Fernando Botero; and visited Parque Biblioteca España (Library Park Spain), a public space for education and community events that helped transform what was once one of Medellín’s most violent neighborhoods.

These visits set the stage for the students’ work on medellín mi hogar, an alternative documentary archive, organized by Mobility Movilidad, about families who built their own homes and neighborhoods in the city.

Students also met their compañeras and compañeros, or peer partners—Colombian university students who serve as guides to local culture through a youth lens—just in time for the dramatic Colombia–Argentina game in the Copa América (America Cup).


Follow Mobility Movilidad on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates.

Through Our Eyes IV: Behind the scenes

A look at the process of mounting the 2015 exhibit of Through Our Eyes. In this exhibit, nine young emerging artists from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia shared their perspectives on 21st-century environmental and social justice crises. Their exhibit was at Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii, and they also traveled to Emerson College in Los Angeles, California and Boston, Massachusetts and Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Running through the marrow of this exhibit as a whole was a call for us to reflect on what we all have in common: our humanity. One artist’s work, for example, reminded us of the stories that our skin—specifically our scars—tells about how we are unique and connected.

Click here to read more about the exhibit. To contact Mobility Movilidad, email

Why Mobility | Movilidad

In this short video, Mobility | Movilidad founding director Tamera Marko discusses the ethics that tie together its three major projects—Proyecto Carrito, medellín mi hogar, and Proyecto Boston-Medellín—and her personal motivation for doing this work. It was filmed on Kailua Beach on O‘ahu, Hawai‘i after the Mobility | Movilidad team mounted the latest exhibit at Punahou School.

Proyecto Carrito article published in Literacy in Composition Studies special issue

The article, titled “Proyecto Carrito – When the Student Receives an ‘A’ and the Worker Gets Fired: Disrupting the Unequal Political Economy of Translingual Rhetorical Mobility,” was published in a special issue of Literacy in Composition Studies called “The New Activism: Composition, Literacy Studies, and Politics.” It was co-authored by Tamera Marko, Mario Ernesto Osorio, Eric Sepenoski, and Ryan Catalani.

It is an interactive article:

We and the journal editors have designed this article as a hybrid of academic essay and multi-media narrative that combines written-word, video, song, photographs, 3-D renders and an interactive blog. Each of these elements are equally important dimensions of the narrative and mutually inform each other. This format invites readers to read in multiple ways and orders. For example, some people might read the written word text from top to bottom first and then click on the links to various multi- media dimensions. Others might read each item in order as it appears on the page, written word text, video clips, songs and images. Still others might want to read the multi-media blog first to see our context and then read this article which analyzes it.

It begins:

If I could change the world, I would change __________. Proyecto Carrito began, though we did not know it yet, with this prompt in our English-Language-Learning (ELL) writing class. It was Fall 2011, the second year that Tamera Marko and Eric Sepenoski were co-teaching this class at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. All of the students in this class were Emerson College maintenance workers (janitorial staff). All of them came to the United States because war, violence and poverty forced them to flee their homes in Latin America and seek a better life for themselves and their families. They range in age from 35 years old to 68 years old and have been working at Emerson cleaning toilets and dorms and shoveling snow for eight to twenty three years. To first come to the United States, most of them crossed three borders—on foot. Some crossed the final border between Latin America and the United States lying down with four or five others crammed in the trunks of cars.

Read or download the article from LiCS here.

Through Our Eyes IV in the media

Emerson College: March 10, 2015

Colombian artists visit Emerson in LA, Boston

ELA Founding Director Kevin Bright ’76 was moved by the presentation and stories that the artists shared.

“Your stories are so important because you didn’t overcome something small to get here,” said Bright, who felt compelled to ask some of the artists to leave photos to hang in the ELA conference room.

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Punahou School: March 16, 2015

“Through Our Eyes”: Colombian Artists Share Unique Cultural Perspective

The artists discussed a range of subjects – from artistic techniques to the similarities and differences between local cultures – with Punahou students and faculty.

Greenwell encouraged students to question the visitors about their art in the cultural and historical context of Colombia to foster a more nuanced and personalized understanding of the material. “It turned out really well,” she said: “My students got to have real one-on-one conversations with the artists.

Honolulu Star Advertiser: March 14, 2015

In the Artweek calendar

“Through Our Eyes”: Works by nine student artists from the National University of Colombia. Ends Friday, Punahou School, Kirsch Gallery.