“I Am! Self-Identity and Contemporary Issues Course

Max Jacobs, summer intern and course teacher's assistant, helping Dreamer Tatyana Dennis with her coursework. 

Max Jacobs, summer intern and course teacher's assistant, helping Dreamer Tatyana Dennis with her coursework. 

“I am not simple-minded. I am a person who by day her mind stretches with her new information,” declared Jennifer,”I am different than how I was before, a new person who has pushed down the barrier that has blocked her from reaching her fullest potential.” 

Our summer programming was centered on an interdisciplinary course named I AM: Self-Identity and Contemporary Issues. The class was designed to teach Dreamers valuable lessons about who we are, how we see ourselves, and how we can use knowledge of our history to make intentionally impactful decisions in the future.

The course was designed and taught by Donald Ostrow with the assistance of summer intern Max Jacobs. Eight of our Dreamers attended class twice a week for three hours to learn algebra, improve reading comprehension skills, and discuss historical topics in relation to relevant current events.    

The primary text for the course was Howard Zinn’s, “A People’s History of the United States” and the readings led to discussions focused primarily on African-American and women's suffrage and disenfranchisement. Dreamers learned about the emotional and social factors of learning, such as the functioning of the amygdala and the importance of steadying one’s breathing.  

“IAM!” course Instructor, Donald Ostrow, speaks to Dreamers at the Whitney Museum.

“IAM!” course Instructor, Donald Ostrow, speaks to Dreamers at the Whitney Museum.

As part of the class Dreamers took a trip to the Whitney Museum where they viewed the Danny Lyon: Message to the Future exhibition.“ If we learn about the past we can change the future,” said Dreamer Tia Grant-Lasenberry, “Education is freedom.”