SBU Summer Soccer Scholars Explore Migration Themes and Build Memories


SBU scholar Ayouba Swaray rides a bike around Governor’s Island during a Friday field trip.

Every year, South Bronx United engages students in a five-week summer program.  The SBU Summer Soccer Scholars program gives students the chance to exercise their brains and bodies while providing new opportunities and activities around the greater metropolitan area.  This year’s program focused on migration, and the projects the students carried out centered around communities, immigrants, and movement.  88 students between the 6th and 11th grades participated in this year’s program.  With the exception of Fridays where the group was out on field trips, students could be found in Math, Humanities, Art, or Life Skills classes each afternoon.  They were on the soccer field for two and a half hours each afternoon.

The summer’s theme of migration was seen throughout all classes and gave students, all of whom are from immigrant families, the opportunity to reflect on their personal experiences. In Humanities, students read and studied about the living conditions of people from Central America to Malaysia and the stories of migration from those areas.  They created final presentations covering their research and insights into the life and migrant experiences of specific groups.  Young students carried out a debate on immigration policies.  Each side had to present an opening statement, arguments, and a closing statement. They presented their arguments to a panel of visitors from the investment firm BlackRock.   Mathematics provided the opportunity to explore the economics of migration.  The youngest students research and created their own travel plans before using algorithms and algebra to research the costs of travel.

A student works on a Community Asset map.

A student works on a Community Asset map.

High school students participated in a Life Skills class and Community Asset Mapping project in affiliation with the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center.  The project gave students the opportunity to explore the resources, or lack of resources, available in the South Bronx and focused on access to healthy food options and health supports.  Incorporating the migration theme, the students surveyed neighborhood residents to determine the countries  that they had migrated from. They then explored the reasons and implications behind the data.  As a final project, students created three dimensional street maps to illustrate their findings.

Thanks to a grant made in honor of the late artist Karen Barth, the summer also gave the program’s middle school students the chance to take daily art class.  The summer’s curriculum was designed by LEAP, a local arts education organization, that helped carry out the curriculum.  Students experimented with various color palettes and visual art forms. The class culminated with the creation of a triptych that reflected migration. Using colored pencils, the triptychs illustrated stories ranging from the migration of a student’s mother from the Dominican Republic to the United States to the most common motifs found in a student’s country of origin, in this case Coite D’ivoire.

Vanessa with the triptych illustrating her mother's migration.

Vanessa with the triptych illustrating her mother’s migration.

This summer, South Bronx United also held a photography club as a part of its summer curriculum. Every Tuesday and Wednesday, students learned the foundations of photography and applied the lessons using digital cameras. The intention behind the Photography Club was to allow students to think about their surroundings and use photography as a means to express those perspectives.

As a part of the Summer Program tradition, Fridays were designated for outdoor excursions. The students lined up for the Cyclone at Coney Island, swam at Bear Mountain, canoed at Orchard Beach, and rode bikes through Governor’s Island. On the last Friday, scholars rode a bus to New Jersey and spent the day at Six Flags.

A BlackRock volunteer works with students in an ELA class.

A BlackRock volunteer works with students in an ELA class.

South Bronx United also welcomed volunteers from three corporations and organization supporters. BlackRock employees came on the last classroom day to serve as judges and evaluators of the final presentations in each class.  PIMCO and Goldman Sachs also came out to conduct workshops with the students.  More photos of the program can be viewed online: Goldman Sachs Visit, PIMCO Visit, and Summer Soccer Scholars.

The Summer Soccer Scholars program would not have been possible without LEAP, Friends of Brook Park, Mount Sinai, Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, and PIMCO.  South Bronx United would like to thank all of the volunteers and teachers who helped make the program an instructive and creative environment for their students.

At Bear Mountain State Park pool

At Bear Mountain State Park pool

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