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Dance Program to Highlight Immigration Stories from Students, Faculty and Staff

This Wednesday, March 31, the NC State Dance Program will debut the latest edition of its Against the Railing Project in their ongoing Lunchbox Series, in which NC State students, faculty and staff share stories about how their families immigrated to the United States.

Masked students dance on stage as part of the Against the Railing project last April
Masked students dance on stage as part of the Against the Railing project last April

As part of its ongoing Lunchbox Series, the NC State Dance Program will highlight a recent project featuring stories from students, faculty and staff about their immigration histories. Registration is now open here for this virtual event, scheduled for Wednesday, March 31, at noon.

The Against the Railing Immigration Project was first created by Tara Zaffuto Mullins, director of the NC State Dance Program, in 2007. At the time, it was about her grandmother’s journey from Sicily to New York in the early 1900s. Her grandmother left her parents behind and worked on the factory lines to make a better life for her children. 

In February 2020, just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down, Mullins completed an updated version of the project, which was scheduled to be performed in April. “We couldn’t perform this dance with the social distancing restrictions, so the only choice was to re-work it into a pandemic version with social distancing and masks as part of the piece. This was part of our series called “Concert From Your Couch.”

With the current conversations about immigration, Mullins decided to expand the piece to include even more sections, and filmed immigration stories from NC State faculty, staff and students. The inspiration for these videos came from Minnesota’s Immigrant Stories Project, and the interviews became a stand-alone project. She collaborated with the Division of Academic and Student Affairs’ marketing and communications office to compile the videos and tell the story in a digital format.

At the upcoming Lunchbox Series event, participants will see the finished product and watch some of the interviews. Mullins will also discuss the process and her hopes for the future of the project.