The children of new Mainers

1:30 pm, Diamond 153

  • Franco Americans: Rhea Côté Robbins, Franco-American Women’s Institute
  • Children of Holocaust survivors: David Giesel, Colby College Class of ’15
  • Latinos: David Fisk, Migrant Education Program, Maine Dept. of Education
  • Youth in Greater Portland: Pious Ali, Portland School Board
  • moderator: Adam Howard, Colby College Education Department

Rhea Cote RobbinsRhea Côté Robbins was brought up bilingually in a Franco-American neighborhood in Waterville known as the South End.  Côté Robbins is the author of creative nonfiction memoirs titled ‘down the Plains,’ and Wednesday’s Child, winner of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance Chapbook Award.  She is editor of Canuck and Other Stories, an anthology of translations of early 20th century Franco-American women writers who wrote about their immigration experience.  She is the founder and director of the Franco-American Women’s Institute, which disseminates information about the contributions of the French heritage women’s lives and will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2016.  Côté Robbins’ writing and research has appeared in many publications.  She is currently working on research in expanding the definition of the French heritage women and their “hidden” contributions.


GieselDavid Giesel is a senior at Colby College. David grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and came to Colby (and Maine) in part to learn about people with life stories and experiences different from his own. In addition to his History major, David has taken a broad range of courses in different religious faiths in an effort to better form his own faith, and to better understand the faiths of those around him.  This spring, David has interviewed members of the Maine Jewish community in an effort to understand and document the experiences of the children of Holocaust survivors.


FiskDavid Fisk serves as the State Director of the Migrant Education Program at the Maine Department of Education. This federally funded program provides educational support across the state for eligible students and families. The program is in charge of identifying, qualifying, and serving students with supplemental educational services, including the annual Blueberry Harvest School which provides summer programming for over 100 migrant students. The program also oversees supports for migrant students attending Maine schools and out of school youth who may have dropped out of school. David received a degree in Political Science from the University of Maine at Farmington and is progressing towards his master’s at the Muskie School at the University of Southern Maine.


Pious AliPious Ali is Youth and Community Engagement Specialist at the University of Southern Maine’s Muskie School of Public Service.  Often working with diverse groups of individuals who are predominantly immigrants, Pious has built strong relationships with communities, nonprofits, institutions, and leaders from various backgrounds.  He is founder and Executive Director of the Maine Interfaith Youth Alliance and also the Director and Co-founder of the King Fellows, a Portland-based youth group dedicated to creating meaningful opportunities for youth leadership and civic engagement based on the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Pious is the first African-born American to be elected to public office in Maine, as at-large member of the Portland School Board (2013).


HowardAdam Howard, Ed.D., is Associate Professor of Education at Colby College. Prior to teaching at the college level, he taught high school English and history at Cincinnati Country Day School and directed Summerbridge Cincinnati, Inc., a non-profit organization designed to provide academic support to disadvantaged middle school students while encouraging high school and college students to consider a teaching career path. Howard has published numerous articles and papers on social class issues in education with a particular focus on privilege and elite education. He is author of Learning Privilege: Lessons of Power and Identity in Affluent Schooling and co-author (with 23 former Colby students) of Negotiating Privilege and Identity in Educational Contexts.


[additional bios coming soon]

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