North Carolina Humanities Council Grant Supports Digital Storytelling Community Project to Amplify Immigrant Voices

Through a grant totaling $19,269 from the North Carolina Humanities Council, Dr. Shanan Fitts and Dr. Greg McClure helped to amplify the immigrant voices in the community through a digital storytelling project called “Roots & Routes: Stories of Migration in the High Country”. 

The purpose of the project was to share the experiences and voices that are missing from schools, libraries, museums, and other cultural venues, as well as to learn more about the members of the community.

Both faculty in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Fitts and McClure led a series of workshops where Latinx participants shared, explored, and learned from each other’s migration experiences. The workshops culminated in a presentation of each of the participant’s videos and discussion. Watch the videos here

Roots and Routes Tree

Fitts and McClure utilized a technique called popular education, which is a community-based approach to education that recognizes individual experiences as important and powerful sources of knowledge.

Beyond the participants’ presentations, Fitts and McClure have shared the videos along with the curriculum at the annual Research & Creative Activity at Appalachian event, hosted by Office of Research, and the annual Global Symposium, hosted by the Office of International Education and Development.

The project will continue during Spring and Summer 2022 with a focus on sharing the experiences of Hmong and Hmong American people in Western North Carolina. Fitts and McClure are currently seeking participants for this new round of workshops. Questions? Email or

Implementing the project in the classroom

Liliana Martinez works with a student

Liliana Martinez ’19 ’20, a fourth grade teacher at Appalachian State University’s Academy at Middle Fork, helped facilitate a few of the workshops, sharing her own experiences and stories. She also brought this community building project to her classroom.

After completing her work on this project, Martinez has put a larger emphasis on community building in her classroom by incorporating some of the games and activities from the workshop into her social emotional learning curriculum. 

Additionally, she has scheduled a time everyday for students to create anything that they are interested in through writing or drawing. While not required, students have the opportunity to share their creations with the class in order to teach and inspire each other. 

As a result, many students have sharpened their drawing skills, gained research skills and furthered their writing skills. 

“Sometimes students will draw characters from their favorite shows, write a narrative about an event that impacted them, create google slides about their favorite animals or create comics about their everyday life,” said Martinez. “It has become a time that students look forward to everyday.” 

In addition to the classroom activities, a digital stories workshop inspired by the Roots and Routes Workshop is being planned for families of English language learners at the Academy at Middle Fork.

Group Photo
Published: Feb 8, 2022 11:03am