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Gem Projects preps for virtual rally and ALI leads emotional interviews

Through a mix of art, research, policy briefs, advocacy training, personal narrative writing, videography, and photography, Newark youth will grapple with the effects of COVID-19 on their communities. They will also study the historical disparities in access to public health, education and employment. Youth participants will learn how to conduct community engaged research to document the world as it is today in the middle of a pandemic and envision an equitable world of the future.

The Gem Project Fellows were finalizing the logistics surrounding their virtual digital rally, which takes place on Thursday, August 13, 2020. The youth finished their website that details their seven issues briefs and will house their artworks in a virtual museum using virtual reality. ALI Youth Leaders spent the week conducting interviews with parents, students, and community leaders. They also chose a logo for the project.

The most exciting progress the Gem Project made this week was when our fellows completed their issue briefs and are finalizing their realism and Afrofuturism artworks. The Gem Project fellows made progress on the event page website where we will be holding our fellows’ work that they worked on throughout the whole summer: ALI youth leaders selected a logo and led interview that were very emotional. They also scheduled interviews with the Mayor and Superintendent, for the project.

The steps the Gem Project took toward our ultimate goal this week was to explain the schedule for the rally to our fellows and ask the fellows how they would like to participate in the different roles such as participating in a performance or in a panel discussion about the topics they researched in their respective groups. Also, showing our fellows an overview of the website consisting of where their work will be placed for the digital rally to see if they agree with the way the website was set up or disagree. The fellows loved the way the website was framed and could not wait to see how the attendees of the rally will enjoy it. At ALI, most of the day was committed to interview prep. We wanted to make sure ALI youth leaders were ready to lead interviewees through conversations that were very new and recent. Dr. Okaikor Price trained the youth leader in community storytelling, and the importance of responding appropriate when interviewees share stories that are deeply personal. Two interviewees discussed losing close family members, and our youth responded appropriately and respectfully. One specific example of the work the Gem Project can share from this week is when our fellows came to the Barat foundation to help paint ani modules showing support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The trip to the foundation allowed our youth organizers to grow some more inspiration for their artworks and express their artistic crafts in a form larger than on a regular canvas. This week during the ALI Youth Leader interviewers, interviewees were crying during their zoom session. One interviewee said, “This is my first time really processing the impact of COVID-19