Crossing Cultures: SRJC museum features exhibit on students’ immigration stories


Matthew Koch

Leslie Mancillas compiles an anthology of body maps with local ESL students.

Amy Reynolds, Staff Writer

This past May, more than 50 Santa Rosa Junior College English as a Second Language students took part in a Sonoma County Museum Exhibit entitled “Art and Storytelling: The Body Map Series.”

SRJC ESL and college skills instructor Leslie Mancillas and local artist Mario Uribe have been working with local ESL students to create and decorate storytelling body maps to portray their immigration experiences.

“I have people who are in the middle of these amazing stories, still trying to acclimate to life in this country,” Mancillas said. “Their culture and their stories are their strength. I hope people in the community will walk away with a deeper understanding of the challenges and dreams of immigrants in Sonoma County.”

The exhibit is coming to the SRJC Museum Nov. 16 and runs thru Dec. 7. The opening reception is 3 p.m. Nov. 17.

Mancillas hopes the exhibit accurately portrays the struggles and victories of the immigrants who left their native lands in pursuit of a better life. It will also serve as a reminder of the struggles people face that forces them into exile. “There are so many countries in the world where people are facing persecution and severe poverty,” she said. “Hopefully, this exhibit can help to open our hearts a little bit.”