Skip to main content


Public Humanities Fellow Nicole Gervasio: “Letting Scopes Collide at the Kaleidoscope Project”

Fellows, Public Humanities Fellows

November 11, 2016

Letting Scopes Collide at the Kaleidoscope Project
by Nicole Gervasio, Public Humanities Fellow

"During the closing open mic for the Kaleidoscope Project, a diversity-based literacy and creative writing workshop that I created for underserved teens in New York City, one of my favorite students hung out while I tidied up. Five-foot-nothing with a quicksilver sense of humor, she is the tiniest soon-to-be varsity basketball player I know. I asked her how she felt about resuming school. “I’m looking forward to not being so bored all the time,” she shrugged. “But my English teachers hate me.”

A chimerical grin spread across her face. “They act like they hate me. But really, I know they love me,” she corrected herself. Then she named a few acts of terrorism she had launched against English teachers for staging such dull classes.

Listening to her grievances, it became clear to me that teachers weren’t the problem. My student was bored with books, conversations, and essays; thus, having a very sharp, nimble mind, aware bad behavior is more stimulating than A Separate Peace, she hop-scotched between being a class clown, the teacher’s Cudjo, and the most unnervingly quiet bookworm in the room.

The Kaleidoscope Project, supported by the Public Humanities Fellowship at the New York Council for the Humanities and the Heyman Center for the Humanities, began with a very simple premise: when kids have access to stories that validate their lives, they feel more empowered to learn. Not only that, but they feel emboldened to become creators themselves—creators of art and knowledge. I know because I was a working-class, queer teen in an urban setting: scholarship-bound to a college-preparatory high school, yet alienated by the endless injunction to ponder lives of privilege and power that bore no relation to my own..." Continue to full piece HERE.