Otis College Students Tell Stories of Eastern European Elders Against the Backdrop of War in Ukraine

Community, News | December 14, 2022

Otis College student with Eastern European immigrant

Through the CAIL course, True Stories, Otis students transformed the elders’ stories into beautiful visual portraits of their life experiences. 

For the past six years, Otis College’s Creative Action Integrated Learning (CAIL) course, True Stories—led by Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty member and established playwright Laurel Ollstein—has been sharing  the stories of elders in the community. Earlier this month, the class partnered with the Wende Museum in Culver City to retell the stories of three immigrants who grew up in Eastern Europe in what are now Russia and Ukraine and now live in the U.S. The project was timed in response to the war in Ukraine. 

The Wende Museum preserves Cold War artifacts through research and education, making them available to scholars applying lessons from the historical past to the present. Fifteen Otis students were provided a guided tour of the museum by its education director prior to  conducting their interviews, which they then transcribed, edited, and developed into books that featured student artwork about their interview subjects and written reactions to their stories.  

At an event on December 3, performers recited portions of these oral histories and students shared their artwork from the project. All of the books that were created have been displayed at the museum. 

You can see more from this event in the photographs below. To learn more about the CAIL program at Otis College of Art and Design, please visit this link.

All photographs by Danielle Vega/Otis College of Art and Design.

Stories of Eastern European immigrants are performed at Wende Museum
Otis College students present their renderings of stories by Eastern European immigrants at the Wende Museum
Guests view Otis College student work at the Wende Museum
Student work displayed at the Wende Museum


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