Skip to Collaborative on Global Children's Issues Full Site Menu Skip to main content
April 25, 2022

Responding To: Innovating Protection for Migrant and Asylum-Seeking Children in U.S. Communities

Óyeme: In the United States

Joanne Seelig, Artistic Director of Education and Theatre for Change, Imagination Stage

Showing the Óyeme: In the United States Video

Imagination Stage created Óyeme in partnership with Montgomery County’s Department of Recreation, the Street Outreach Network, and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation in 2014 in response to the large number of migrant and asylum-seeking youth from Central America arriving in the county. It began as a small afterschool program—providing space for newcomer youth to explore their stories and share their experiences in a culturally-sensitive and trauma-informed way. Over time, the students helped playwright Miriam Gonzales create the play Óyeme, the Beautiful.

Óyeme means “hear me” in Spanish. The production follows a group of teens from Central America who are making the dangerous trek across the border to the Washington, DC, region. The play helps build awareness and empathy within the broader community. As a result of Imagination Stage’s partnership with Montgomery County and D.C. Public Schools, Óyeme workshops continue to take place in more than 25 English Language Learner classrooms during the school day, and the play has reached more than 7,000 audience members.

Joanne Seelig is the artistic director of education and theatre for change at Imagination Stage. An arts educator with more than 18 years of experience, Seelig leads the development of new work based on youth voices that have been performed on Capitol Hill, at the Smithsonian, and at the National Building Museum.

Other Responses

Alondra Andrade
Community Solutions

Alondra Andrade, Community Engagement Coordinator, Tahirih Justice Center | April 20, 2022

International Mayan League/USA
Maya Peoples' Resurgence Across Settler Colonial Borders

Juanita Cabrera Lopez, Executive Director, International Mayan League; Dr. Emil’ Keme, Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Lorena Brady, Policy and Program Manager, International Mayan League | April 20, 2022

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Safe Passages: A Path Towards Permanency

Kathleen Goss, Associate Director for Foster Care, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Services; Johanna Neece, Program Specialist for the Foster Care Team, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops/Migration and Refugee Services | April 20, 2022

Bienvenidos, Aquí para ti
The Case of One County

Marc Elrich, Chief Executive, Montgomery County, Maryland; Gabe Albornoz, President, Montgomery County Council; Gillian Huebner, Executive Director, Georgetown University Collaborative on Global Children’s Issues | April 20, 2022