Americans are as fascinated by exotic foreign fashions as people of other nationalities are by American style trends. We adopt each other’s clothing, but we rarely go beyond the superficial to discover the aspirations we share or our mutual frustrations and heartaches.
Earlier this year, Columbus poet and university professor Douglas Gray published on his Downtown Writers website a call for submissions to Jewish Family Services’ ongoing civic journalism project. The local social service agency is celebrating its 100th anniversary by asking for volunteers to interview and write about some of its clients, many of whom are immigrants, who have benefitted from career and family assistance.
Shortly after offering to participate in the project, I was paired with a Senegalese woman raising two small daughters here in Columbus. She enthusiastically described the successful clothing design and manufacturing business she once owned in Dakar, and she lamented her inability to resume the work she loved after moving to the U.S. We shared a pleasant two-hour conversation that occasionally challenged her English and my rudimentary knowledge of French. Her story was captivating.
Jewish Family Services is encouraging writers of all ages, cultures, and skill levels to participate in its civic journalism project. Articles produced by volunteers will be published on the agency’s website or in its brochures in an ambitious and creative endeavor that combines public relations with community building.
Contributing writers are provided with a small amount of biographical data on their interview subjects and background information about Jewish Family Services to help them prepare questions. Interested volunteers can contact Jewish Family Services at 614-231-1890.