BCCE Youth St(W)arriors
In January of 2013, the BCCE Youth St(W)arriors of Indianapolis began working with Drs. Thu Suong Nguyen and Brendan Maxcy, exploring the idea of education as a practice of freedom ( To do so, they took up the use of narrative and documentary filmmaking as the primary modes through which to advocate with and for their families and community. Consistent with the aims of BCCE to foster students’ understanding of themselves as subjects, rather than objects, of the world, the Youth St(W)arriors’ work emphasizes the importance of self- and community-understanding and the power of stories to transform the world.

Drawing from the ideas of Paulo Freire to guide this work, the Youth St(W)arriors highlight the importance of individual and community voice in the struggle to understand how they were positioned as ethnic minorities in Burma and Thailand and how they are now situated in the United States. In particular, they are guided by Freire’s admonition regarding education:

Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Freire champions the freedom of individuals and communities to shape their own destinies – to narrate themselves rather than being narrated by others. In this tradition, the BCCE Youth St(W)arriors of Indianapolis seek to tell their own stories, the stories of their elders, and to envision the stories they hope to materialize for themselves and their community.

Education as a Practice of Freedom

The Burmese Community Center for Education (BCCE) is a community-based organization in Indianapolis, Indiana founded in October 2010. BCCE's primary mission is to strengthen and empower the newly resettled refugee-immigrant communities from Burma through formal and informal education. One among a number of youth and leadership programs offered through BCCE is the BCCE Youth St(W)arriors of Indianapolis formed in January 2013. As articulated by M. Mutraw, "At BCCE, we believe that education should raise the awareness of the students so that they become subjects, rather than objects, of the world. This awareness can be achieved by teaching students to think democratically and to continually question and make meaning." To encourage this ethic, the youth members of the BCCE Youth St(W)arriors of Indianapolis interrogated the notion of "education as a practice of freedom" through interviews and conversations with the founding members of the BCCE. This short film is a product of that effort.

Keynote address given by Ms. A. May-Oo Mutraw at the Second Annual International Summit of the University Council for Education Administration, Indianapolis, Indiana. November 10, 2013.