Students identified as English Language Learners (ELLs) are the fastest growing student population in the United States (NCES, 2016), and will comprise nearly 40% of the K-12 population by 2030 (Center for Public Education, 2012). As more schools in non-urban settings such as Bloomington/Normal are welcoming ELLs that are refugees, asylum seekers, and unaccompanied minors, finding ways to support this heterogeneous group’s integration and acculturation is a pressing need (Hos, 2016).
This exhibit, which was created collaboratively by Illinois State University students enrolled in School of Teaching and Learning and School of Art Graphic Design courses, features stories of ELLs in Bloomington/Normal schools and at Illinois State University. TELL displays the journeys of students through their stories, cultural traditions, challenges, and dreams for the future. The exhibit seeks to reduce misconceptions and prejudice about the faces and voices of ELLs in our community, and aspires to raise public awareness and create positive dialogue about ELLs.
Each ELL story is a combination of determination, hope, and challenges. It is more important than ever to share the stories of ELLs through which we can understand better and celebrate the diversity and commonality of human experience.
In association with TELL, a film screening of Ai Wei Wei’s “Human Flow”(about the world refugee crisis) at Normal Theater followed by a panel discussion including members of the community and educators discussing how Normal/Bloomington community has responded to the refugees in our communities. This event will take place on April 9th at 7 PM.