Art & Lit Project: Doing Our Small Part to Help Asylum Seekers

By Tait Longhi, Blog Intern & Sara Mortensen, Communications Manager

Image of a student holding up the welcome cards she wrote to asylum seekers.

Image of a student holding up the welcome cards she wrote to asylum seekers.

Every year, Words Alive facilitates an art project with our teen students. “The Radius of All of Us” is a unique exhibition inspired by Marie Marquardt’s The Radius of Us, designed by community artist Sue Britt, facilitated by Words Alive, and created by students attending alternative schools from North County to the border. Through creative writing and art, students connect the novel to the world as they explore themes of perception and transformation and grapple with the complex issues of trauma and immigration.

In The Radius of Us, Phoenix, one of the main protagonists, is an asylum seeker from El Salvador. He fled his home country due to gang violence and is looking for a new start for himself and his younger brother. As we connect Phoenix’s immigration experience in The Radius of Us to what’s happening in our world, we are doing our small part to help those seeking asylum in our community.


Working alongside Jewish Family Service, we’re collecting donations of new socks and underwear — the items most requested by people crossing the border. All youth sizes and adult size small are needed. The clothing will benefit families staying at the Jewish Family Service shelter for asylum seekers. Jewish Family Service is a “client-centered, impact-driven organization working to build a stronger, healthier, more resilient San Diego “ that makes a “difference in the lives of more than 32,000 people every year”. These donations are extremely important and needed due to the fact that these people are trying to start a new life in a new country.

In addition, students at many of our classrooms are writing welcome letters to refugees and asylum seekers. In The Radius of Us, Phoenix has mixed experiences when he comes to the United States. He is welcomed into the home of Sally and Amanda while at the same time he is seen as suspicious and dangerous by other members of the community. By writing these welcome letters, students will be helping to make refugees and asylum seekers coming through the San Diego border know that there are people who are rooting for them to succeed in the United States and that there are people who are happy that they are here.

At Words Alive, we are proud of our students for taking part in this project to help others. Please donate today if you can! We are accepting sock and underwear donations at the Words Alive office until June 4th. You can also donate at our Art & Lit Exhibit, where you can see our student’s final art projects. Join us from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 5th at the San Diego Art Institute.