A Time of Rebirth

My name is Christina Nguyen and I am the new Teen Leadership Program and Youth Speaks Seattle Coordinator. I am very humbled to be carrying on the legacy of the past mentors of Youth Speaks and upholding the generation from before and after.

Christina BNV AtlantaNow, you may be wondering who I am. I have been part of Youth Speaks Seattle for almost four years now. I have seen the program grow from a little seed – when we used to meet guerilla-style at local cafes planning slams to now establishing opportunities for a leadership and social justice institute. We’ve grown from a team of 4 interns to a squad of 15 youth from around the greater Seattle area (also known as Spokes!)

Let’s take a step back and focus our lens back to the beginning, of my journey of how I am related to Youth Speaks Seattle. The beginning of my enlightening journey started in my sophomore honors Language Arts class when two mentors from YSS, Henry Luke and Chelsea Staples, came in to do outreach for a local slam whilst curating a writing workshop. Now, I was one extremely shy youth back in the day but when it came to sharing, an emotional wave took over my mind to stand up and actually share a couple lines from my poem. I felt safe, for the first time in my life in that atmosphere. I felt heard and understood. By the end of the day, I had found my birth of flame that kindled inside of me – a burning desire to actually slam. I went home that day and spilled my toxic thoughts on paper- creating the newest and next three poems that allowed me to win the Harambee slam and get me through to perform at YSS Grand Slam in the later months.

After that experience, I was hooked. Some might say I might have been addicted – not to abusive substances but instead I craved the feeling to use words as healing, learning to question facts and opinions, and most importantly fell hard for one of the most accepting communities I had ever found in my life. I started searching more events to feed the hunger for sharing my words. That was when I found the weekly writing circles. From then on, I showed up weekly. My favorite memories were learning new techniques to approach poetry, cooking ramen/spaghetti in the little kitchen, and seeing the YSS family weekly after a hard week of school.

My love of the Youth Speaks Seattle community grew and bloomed to where I stand to this very day.

Where I stand right now, I am the bridge that connects the future youth coming into the program and the ones who left a legacy. I feel as if I’m the Avatar or Guardian by carrying on legacies I’ve witnessed and add more to the life and journey of YSS ahead until my term is up. Right now, I am thrilled to pave new ways to help deepen the meaning of Youth Speaks among new communities and in addition, I also can’t help but feel tinges of nervousness. But who hasn’t? We are all human.

We are always in the establishment of creating ourselves, enduring shape shifting contradictions, and transformation. In a need to always be thriving to be better and feeling like “never enough.” When really, instead, we should reflect and grow.

Essentially, who we are, why are we doing what we do. We should question our being. We go through life trying to understand how to better ourselves daily, and fear what the future holds. My mindset this year is to not fret and to have no fears. Just take one day at a time. Everyday is always an opportunity to shake it up.

I am highly looking forward to learning new knowledge and spreading knowledge among the people I will meet on this new quest I have ahead. Whilst sharing ways of positive risk-taking and providing tools to accept vulnerability and healing.

One of the philosophies I believe and want to uphold this year regarding art is a quote that goes “an artist is a child who survived.”  Since this will be the first year in revamping the program (incorporating music, movement, and spoken word), I want to assist people in “feeding” that young artist or help waken them in this time of rebirth. In addition, I want to bring to conversation that creating art causes humanity to become a more majestic place. To show that it is acceptable to have emotions and validating our feelings from the memories, moments, and experiences we endure daily. We are in dire need of becoming socially awake and holding spaces for communities to survive through these rough times. We need to do so by providing healing mechanisms and essentially share the many stories that we carry with us for these years to come.


Christina Nguyen, AmeriCorps Artist-in-Service: Teen Leadership Program and Youth Speaks Seattle Coordinator


Apply for the 2015-16 Teen Leadership Program!


Arts Corps x Youth Speaks Seattle x Totem Star 

Teen Leadership Program

Calling all Youth Poets&Dancers&Musicians&Artists! We’re looking for fierce young artists (aged 13-19) who want to create change through community organizing, performance events and artistry! This is a 9-month commitment to being a leader and organizer for the Arts Corps Teen Leadership Program. Internship is from October 14th – June 28th. Leaders will meet every Tuesday from 4-6pm.


  • $tipend: Leaders will receive a $40.00 monthly stipend!
  • Build a tight knit, loving community with 20 other youth artists and activists
  • Professional development and skills (promotion, event planning, public speaking & facilitation)
  • Artistry development in spoken word and music production
  • Learn about forms of oppression and how to fight against them using art and community
  • Good food and 60+ community service hours!

Applications Due: Wednesday, Sept. 30th

All internship details can be found on the Teen Leadership Application.

Apply online: tinyurl.com/artscorpsteen2016

Copies also available at Arts Corps office in the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center (4408 Delridge SW, Suite 110 98106)

Meet Our CSI Highline Teaching Artists!

In the fall of 2015 Arts Corps will launch a three-year arts integration partnership at four Highline Public School elementary schools to foster long term, positive impact on student learning and development. The Creative Schools Initiative will provide high quality integrated arts experiences that elevate arts and literacy while promoting academic engagement and mindsets.

By embedding teaching artists at school sites, Arts Corps will support collaborative teaching, project-based curriculum and culturally relevant content and practices.

Read more about our CSI theatre artists Lauren Appel & Jéhan Òsanyìn, and visual artists Carina del Rosario & Nate Herth below.

Highline CSI Teaching Artist Bios


Arts Corps is Hiring a Program Assistant!

If you or someone you know is interested in working for one of Seattle’s most innovative and exciting arts organizations, please see below. We’re looking for a passionate and detail-oriented Program Assistant to help us track and manage our growing programs, and help provide creative learning opportunities to communities with the least access to arts education. Spread the word! The deadline to apply is 8/17.

Title:  Program Assistant

Reports to: Out of School Time (OST) Manager

Hours: 32 hours per week

Compensation: $15/hour with benefits

Job Description: The Program Assistant’s primary responsibilities are to process monthly payroll for teaching artist faculty, maintain master class schedule, develop partner contracts, vet database inquiries, prepare quarterly partner communications, assist with production of events and provide general administrative support to program staff.


Primary Responsibilities:

  • Maintain master class schedule is up-to-date in database
  • Enter all schedule and course information into database
  • Verify accuracy of database information on web site
  • Compile Teaching Artist (TA) payroll monthly
  • Draft hire letters for TA faculty
  • Draft partner contracts in collaboration with Program Director
  • Vet and document database inquiries
  • Update annual TA handbook and other documentation as needed
  • Draft quarterly partner communications in collaboration with Program Director
  • Conduct scheduling with program partners and TA’s as needed
  • Manage program equipment/materials inventory
  • Support evaluation efforts as needed
  • Assist with TA meeting and retreat preparation as needed
  • Assist with events as needed
  • Assist Program Director as needed
  • Other duties as assigned



  • Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, fine arts, public administration, business administration or related field
  • Strong administrative skills
  • Well-organized with good interpersonal skills
  • Passion for the arts
  • Passion for serving youth in need
  • Responsible, process oriented and detailed
  • Comfortable in multi-cultural social settings and diplomatic environments
  • A self-starter, yet able to work under supervision
  • Effective written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to make sound decisions in a manner consistent with the essential job functions
  • Ability to manage last minute requests and changeable situations easily and calmly
  • Proficiency in word processing, database, Macintosh programs and platforms and spreadsheet skills (Excel)


Arts Corps is an Equal Opportunity Employer.  People of color are strongly encouraged to apply.


To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to Eduardo Mendonca at: fdm@artscorps.org. Deadline for applications is 8/17/2015.

Call for Teaching Artists


Call for Teaching Artists 2015

Arts Corps is hiring part-time teaching artists for our 2015/2016 roster with experience facilitating music, dance, theatre, or visual arts for openings in elementary K-12 residencies and after school programs.

Arts Corps strives to offer equitable access to excellent arts education in partnership with public schools, community centers and youth serving organizations in Seattle and throughout King County.

We are seeking candidates that are exceptional creative role models with strong youth development skills and a commitment to social justice. Arts Corps is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity.  Teaching artists of color are strongly encouraged to apply.


Please e-mail info and materials below to:  eduardo.mendonca@artscorps.org (and please designate TEACHING ARTIST APPLICATION in the subject line) by Monday, August 24th.


Name:______________________________    Phone:___________________________


Email:________________  URL(website):_____________________________________


Mediums you teach:______________________________________________________


Communities you have worked in: ________________________________________


  • Teaching resume.
  • Personal teaching artist mission statement.
  • Class description. (of the course you would passionately like to teach for 8 weeks)
  • A sample curriculum or lesson plan.
  • References.


More info on Arts Corps, our programs and philosophy: www.artscorps.org

The Passing of a Beloved Teaching Artist

2014 Festa-127It is with a heavy heart that Arts Corps shares the tragic news of master dancer and teaching artist Abdoulaye Sylla, who passed suddenly of a heart attack on July 23rd while teaching a residency in California. Abdoulaye embodied music and light. He taught his students about empowerment, persistence, collaboration and joy. He inspired us all and we will forever miss his infectious laugh and his kind smile.

Arts Corps is supporting family-led efforts to bring Abdoulaye back to Guinea for an African burial. Please consider donating to this Go Fund Me campaign and please share this information for even greater reach.


Abdoulaye Sylla was a master dancer and drummer from Guinea, W. Africa, who delighted everyone with his energetic style and infectious smile. He grew up winning numerous dance competitions in and behalf of his country. Abdoulaye performed around the globe with Les Ballets Africains, Guinea’s national dance troupe that is considered the best traditional African performing group in the world, and with the award-winning Les Merveilles D’Afrique. He performed and taught traditional dance and percussion at hundreds of venues throughout Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

1907640_10152139527535098_3083577127732814220_nIn 1994 Abdoulaye relocated to Connecticut where he was co-owner/Artistic Director of One World Arts Exchange. While there he was an adjunct professor at Trinity College and a Master Teaching/Performing Artist with the CT Arts Commission, where he was an instructor in their Higher Order Thinking (HOT) schools program and their Cultural Tapestries school diversity program. He moved to Seattle in 2009 where he led performing groups Message From Guinea and African Connection and performed with numerous groups, including Juno award-winning Alpha Yaya Diallo, Maya Soleil, Adefua, and others. He was on the WASAC teaching artist roster, and worked with Arts Corps, Powerful Schools and Creative Advantage.

Abdoulaye, we will miss you greatly.

Poems from Spruce Street

dying light brighter than the sun

Poems from Vicky Edmonds’ poetry class at Spruce Street Residential Center.

My fears are people
Who laugh at me and my people
And hurt them,
Those people are what I call monsters Some died and others want to rise up And be the only hope for everyone
But I fear for my family
They are a beautiful garden that is dying I am the gardener
Healing my roots but death and sadness consumes them all
And I am the dying light
but I am brighter than the sun


Read more poems here:

dying light…Spruce Book 2014-15



Madrona Public Service Announcements!

At the end of the 2014-15 school year, Madrona Middle School 6th and 7th grade students learned about our local watershed, pollution and how it effects life in the Puget Sound through a series of lessons and hands-on experiments.

Part of Arts Corps’ Creative School Initiative, science teacher Nick Woelbrandt and teaching artist Nate Herth collaborated to infuse visual and performance art into science curriculum. These projects culminated in the students recording Public Service Announcements. They worked in small teams from an original script and recorded ‘live’ in front a studio audience, their classmates.



Hear some of the students’ PSAs!

People litter too much!

There’s a solution for pollution

We are hiring an AmeriCorps Artist in Service: Teen Program Coordinator!

We are looking for a STELLAR candidate to work alongside the Arts Corps Teen program coordinators to support young artists across Seattle. Tell your friends near and far!

Attached is the 2015-16 Americorps Job description.

To apply:

1) Please complete the online Americorps application:


2) Send your resume & cover letter to fa@artscorps.org.

We are prioritizing folks that apply before July 8th!

Inspiration from the Brave New Voices Slam Team

On sunny Sunday afternoons you may have been riding bikes at Green Lake, taking walks, or lounging in a chair in your back yard but what you’ll soon find out is that the youth representing Youth Speaks Seattle’s Brave New Voices team has been hard at work. They have been delicately workshopping their crafted spoken word poems.

Our team this year consists of Darius, Kim, Carlynn, Addie, and Acacia. They are youth represented from all corners of Seattle. If you ever get a chance to hear in on our meetings, you would hear enlightening conversation, repetition of words that had been left unsaid, and booms of laughter. Three words when I think of the slam team are exuberant, fanatical, and fresh. They bring social consciousness to an awareness and are the next visionaries.


During one of the practices, some questions brought up to ask a poet while workshopping is “What was your purpose for writing this piece?” or “Who were you specifically writing this poem to?”

Carlynn answered, “I write poetry to bring awareness for acceptance in this world. There are so many cultures that we all need to find acceptance of others and need to understand each other.”

Addie added, “We need to notice what is happening. I think a lot of people ‘try’ to make better of the past but we need to keep moving forward.”

“In our [collaborated] poem about Freddie Gray, we said ‘history repeats itself,’ we [as people] are firm believers of the past and need to make presence toward the future to be present,” Carlynn stated.

Slam preparation meetings are not only eye opening but also about self-discovery.

Youth Speaks alumni and mentor, Dako’ta Alcantara-Camancho came through last week to help give pointers about poetry through their perspective.

It wasn’t until Kim shared her poem about male rappers, a poem she wrote to male rappers and the rap industry; she raps as she shares it and it is always mind blowing each time. Once she shared her poem, Dako’ta suggested to test different mediums and added a beat into the mix. Kim then added her poem to the beat and that was when gears started to turn. We found out that not only was Kim a poet but she was secretly a rapper in the making.

We also have moments of stand-up comedy in the making as well. Darius is a clever minded and fresh thinker of turning slam poetry into moments of laughter- a difficult approach to spoken word. After you’ll hear his poem, “Five Minute Naps” you will think twice about closing your eyes from sleep deprivation. Darius’s style of poetry is the kind that you can listen to after a rough day because it’s extremely hilarious and will have your lungs expand from the charming charisma he brings on stage. It will literally knock your socks off.

During our meetings, there are also moments of vulnerability in which sharing poetry causes. Acacia wrote a beautiful poem in honor of her grandmother. The poem bridges and is relatable to the many relationships we have to our elders and ancestors. It not only makes you reflect but also causes you to tear up because of her delicately crafted words. She had also wrote a lettered response to the song “Black Boy Fly,” by rapper Kendrick Lamar which gives you thoughts to reflect upon.

With the amazing support of community from mentors, alumni, and friends this amazing team of revolutionaries wouldn’t been able to represent Seattle in Atlanta, Georgia this year for Brave New Voices.

Please support the team and get a peep at what poems will be shared on stage at Brave New Voices this year by attending our Send Off Show on Friday July 10th, 2015 at the Vera Project (7- 10 pm.)


W15_Handler_YT_Spokes_delena.1 Christina Nguyen is a Legacy Spokes Leader and BNV Assistant Coach