Monday, April 4, 2016

Interplay is a Bridge for Teenage Refugees: Playful group interaction develops self-confidence

CREATIVE COMMUNICATION through INTERPLAY. Every Monday since October 2015, InterPlay Atlanta has brought the improvisational system to the Clarkston Community Center at the request of Andrea Waterstone (back row, second from the right). --photo by CPACS staff member
Written by Andrea Waterstone, Director of Art and Education at the Clarkston Community Center (CCC)

Please support InterPlayAtlanta on InterPlay Give Day, April 7th (midnight to midnight). Your gift of money will allow us to keep Interplay in our curriculum as one of the most fun, diverse, meaningful and needed classes we can offer. Here is the link (Donate to InterPlay Atlanta). --Andrea Waterstone

WITNESSING. Half of the "Creative Communication" class witnesses or watches the other half in a shape and stillness exercise. --photo and caption by Ruth Schowalter
I was thrilled to have Ruth Schowalter, a certified InterPlay leader, join my afterschool program (Clarkston Global Academy) to teach teenage refugee students “Creative Communication,” using the improvisational tools of InterPlay. The result from the work Ruth does with the students at the Clarkston Community Center is nothing short of transformational. I have first hand noticed students who were shy, unable to make eye contact during conversation or incapable of speaking up for themselves in group interaction BLOOM into more confident, self assured, well-spoken individuals.

BLOOMING. InterPlay activities such as one hand group dances provide teens with opportunities to interact in ways that are fun and build confidence. --photo and caption by Ruth Schowalter
This Interplay class has filled a need that is often overlooked. We expect a refugee or immigrant to suddenly be able to acclimate to our world in every way once they are in the United States. However, even though a teenage refugee may be fully taking part in the day-to-day life expected of them in-and-out of the school system, the development of his/her self confidence, linguistic confidence and soft skill sets that employers require to be competitive in the American market place are often overlooked or, perhaps, never taught.  This is a disservice to these refugee students, and Interplay has become the class at the CCC to fill that need.
CREATING A ONE HAND DANCE AND SONG. Students were divided into groups so that each one would have an opportunity to do a one-hand dance while the others improvised a song using the form "foundation decoration." --photo and caption by Ruth Schowalter
The Interplay class, “Creative Communication,” which Ruth teaches on Mondays after the refugee students have spent a full day in high school has become the bridge that teaches the above mentioned skill sets in a safe, fun, and playful environment. Communication, movement, listening, eye contact and play all mix together in a beautiful orchestration led by Ruth’s years of effective teaching of ESL and how those concepts of appropriate communication can be transferred to the InterPlay work she is doing with teens in Clarkston Global Academy.

The Clarkston Community Center and The Center for Pan Asian Community Services together see such value in having Interplay among our diverse curriculum offered at our co-led afterschool program Clarkston Global Academy.
COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES. The Clarkston Community City is an integral part of the city of Clarkston, Georgia. In November 2015, the CCC planned and facilitated "Clarkston Streets Alive." Here in this photo, Andrea Waterstone (third from the left) and Ruth Schowalter (left) met with some of the teenage refugees from the afterschool program who volunteered to assist at the event. --photo by Festival Go-er 
Many thanks to Andrea Waterstone for writing this for InterPlay Give Day 2016! Here are links to other blog posts about the Clarkston refugees and marginalized communities that we are serving in the Atlanta Metro Area:

Clarkston Refugees

People living with chronic mental illness and poverty

Incarcerated women 

Your financial gift will help us continue bringing the ease and grace and joy of InterPlay to people who have been marginalized. Since InterPlay Atlanta is a non-profit, you can deduct your donation from your taxes. Donate here on April 7th: Give InterPlay Day (Atlanta InterPlay)


  1. sadly i am never able to subscribe to blogger posts.

    1. Cynthia I appreciate you being present here on my blog and leaving a comment.

  2. I can testify to Ruth's community-building work at the Clarkston Community Center. The teenagers take themselves so seriously and want to get it right and succeed. InterPlay helps them to laugh and be themselves.