School of Education Assistant Professor, Dr. Tasha Darbes, along with Pratt Institute Instructor, Chloe Smolarski, collaborated on a critical media lab that enables Latinx youth to document, analyze and share their community’s experiences throughout the COVID-19 crisis, with a creative touch. Funded by a grant by the Taconic Foundation, Community Response / La Comunidad Responde comprises a series of media and digital storytelling workshops at Gregorio Luperón, a bilingual STEM high school for immigrant students in NYC. The project will create a scalable curriculum to foster the development of other participatory media labs as well as an interactive digital archive of oral histories that will include interviews with community members and multimedia creations created by the students themselves.
 
Through the work of Community Response / La Comunidad Responde, immigrant students will have a platform to “address social injustices through media art digital storytelling, and become empowered to address educational and socio-economic issues,” shares Dr. Darbes. “Through this process, students and community members will reflect on issues such as their emotional journeys, the impacts on their communities and the changing nature of community itself, since they have experienced the loss of place and physical contact due to immigration and more recently to ‘social distancing.’”
 
So far, this program has conducted online workshops with Latinx students on media skills and oral history, and students are currently interviewing community members about their experiences during COVID. They will then create multi-media projects to share what they have learned. Dr. Darbes concludes that, “This project has opened a space where students can engage with issues of importance and master the media tools to express themselves. It is a real example of the power of collaboration across institutions, communities and classrooms.”