Finding Voice students are the heart of the project. They come from all corners of the globe including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burundi, China, Congo, Croatia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Liberia, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Russia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Turkey, Yemen, and Vietnam. They have ranged in age from 14-22 and between the years of 2007-2014 they were English Language Learners at Catalina Magnet High School in Tucson, Arizona. They represent the broadest range of talents, cultures, religions, personalities, academic skill sets, and aspirations you can imagine. They are immigrants with refugee status, international students seeking English training and new horizons, documented and undocumented immigrants pursuing opportunity and the basics in terms of shelter, education, and health care, and the children of international families who have landed in Arizona because of employment or their university studies or the proximity of family. They truly are the faces of our globalized world, and they are the hope for a bright unified future.
Julie Kasper and Josh Schachter, project founders and facilitators, do their very best to keep up with the youthful energy, vision, hope, and learning of the students. As a duo, they bring many years of experience in education, community-based programming, digital media, and international travel/work to Finding Voice.
Julie Kasper is a National Board Certified Teacher in English as a New Language. She teaches English as a New Language to high school students and supports ESL/ELD teachers and other content-area teachers working with diverse learners and/or project-based learning curriculum. A graduate of the University of Arizona and Teachers College, Columbia University, Julie has been teaching for over seventeen years – in Japan, New York City, and currently in Tucson. She enjoys working within a project-based learning approach and teaching with interdisciplinary themes which allow students to extend their literacy and language learning beyond the classroom to real-world contexts, creating work for audiences beyond the teacher and/or classmates. Driven by the words of choreographer Bill T. Jones, Julie strives to create a world she wants to live in. That world is one in which all members of the community are given room to speak and share, have skills to listen with empathy and interest, and have developed a voice – a sense of self and skills to support expression – which they use to engage academically, socially, politically, economically, and creatively with everyone around them. Her work with English Language Learners and teacher-leaders is born of this vision.
Josh Schachter is a photographer, visual storyteller, teaching artist, and cultural organizer, who believes images are a powerful means of sharing stories that foster personal and community transformation. Josh first discovered this as a Master’s student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where he taught photography to 9-12 year-old, at-risk girls.” Their honest imagery and stories forever transformed my understanding of how urban youth experience nature.” Over the past 15 years he has facilitated community-based media projects with youth, teachers, neighborhood groups, and nonprofit organizations in places ranging from New Delhi to Nigeria. When Josh is not teaching, he photographs social and environmental issues on topics ranging from food security to public lands conservation. Josh’s images have been published internationally in books, magazines, newspapers, films and web sites, in venues ranging from the New York Times to the Navajo Times. Josh has been recognized locally and internationally for his work — Recipient of the 2014 Teaching Artist Lumies Award from the Tucson Pima Arts Council; 2013 Nominee for the Buffalo Exchange Emerging Visual Artist Award; Recipient of the 2010 PhotoPhilanthropy’s International “Grand Prize Community-Based Activist Award;” and 2009 Recipient of the “Arizona Teaching Artist Award for Innovation” from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. You can learn more about Josh’s work at www.joshphotos.com.