Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology

A mural done by students at the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology
November 01, 2017
Cuong Pham

Throughout the High Road Fellowship, I have experienced and learned a lot more than I had ever expected. This post will hopefully provide an overview of my experiences in the High Road Fellowship and in Buffalo.

Since the start of the fellowship, I have been working at the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology (BCAT). BCAT is an organization based on the National Center for Arts and Technology model created by Bill Strickland. There are two main programs that BCAT provides and that I’ve had the opportunity to work in, the Youth Arts Program, which is an after-school arts program for high school students, and the Adult Workforce Program, which provides job training for underemployed and unemployed adults. My main project throughout the summer has been consolidating and analyzing the data of the BCAT alumni to see the efficacy and feasibility of both the youth and adult programs. Besides working with exhilarating spreadsheets and numbers, I also assist the teaching artists in their individual classrooms.

I was first interested in BCAT because of its efforts to improve the community at many different angles. Not only is BCAT providing job training for adults to help them gain employment, it is also providing arts education for the youth. BCAT is unique in its multifaceted approach to improving and revitalizing the community. It is not only helping people get back on their feet, they are also providing a space for people to express themselves, both of which are issues pertinent to my own community. Hopefully I can utilize what I’ve learned here to address those issues back home.

Outside of my day job, I’ve also been able to explore a lot of Buffalo, either in our Friday classes or with my fellow High Roaders. Seeing Buffalo with my own eyes has given me a new perspective on urban decay. It was shocking for me to turn a corner see the stark difference in quality of houses and neighborhoods. What also struck me about Buffalo was its diversity. Attending and volunteering at events like the Burmese Water Festival and Taste of Diversity really showed me how diversity can bring life to the cities and communities. Finally, throughout the fellowship, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several community leaders, stakeholders, people who are passionate about changing and improve their communities. Seeing their dedication for their work and for Buffalo has inspired me to be more civically engaged.

Overall, my experiences in Buffalo has been extremely rewarding. There are many little details and stories I have about living in Buffalo and about the fellowship that I didn’t mention in this post but nevertheless contributed my Buffalo experience. This summer in Buffalo has helped me grow a lot as a person, in more ways than one.