Photo Post: The Story of Flag Stories

11454492425_ffb4968acd_z San Francisco Young Diplomats began meeting weekly at SOMArts Cultural Center last fall

Flag Stories: Citizenship Unbound is a 40-week youth art and cultural exchange organized by SOMArts Cultural Center in partnership with the Islamic Art Museum of Malaysia. During the course of Flag Stories, teens from intercultural, refugee, immigrant, and Muslim communities in San Francisco and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia have been collaborating with one another.

Through the creation of art, these two groups of Young Diplomats engage in a  cultural exchange dealing with issues such as family culture, migration, community identity and belonging.

10146353024_aae51f695a_zIdentity pennants made by San Francisco Young Diplomats

Photography, graphic design, video production, painting, and storytelling are all utilized by the students, giving them a chance to learn new methods of art-making, as well as improve their skills in narrative and visual storytelling.

10146355056_06fed05150_zSan Francisco Young Diplomat Jenaeah Thames sketches her ideas for an identity-based flag

In April, a group of 5 Flag Stories students and leaders traveled to the Islamic Art Museum of Malaysia, where they had an opportunity to meet their Malaysian counterparts.

14083193552_b36d475250_zYoung Diplomats from Kuala Lumpur on the steps of the Islamic Art Museum Malaysia

Armed with cameras, the young diplomats photographed Malaysia from their own, youthful perspectives.

13723029815_7ee9315fde_z13723028473_b490181ba5_z13723704915_9ed894d099_z13723381554_887d65572a_z 13724108814_c1054bd177_zThe youth interviewed one another about their lives and about global issues, and kept extensive travel diaries documenting their experience traveling abroad.

malaysian_student_interviews_sf_student13723051295_fa6348c972_zOne of the traveling youth, Pharoah Egbuna, even wrote a great essay for Muslim Kids Matter about his experience. Pharoah said of his experience, “Becoming a global citizen requires more than a passport. It begins with being aware of the wider world and having an understanding of how economic, environmental and social barriers affect communities globally. When you travel within or outside of the U.S., you experience first-hand how geography plays a very important role in shaping cultural perspectives, worldview, and identity.”

1614375_10152863283319498_8660870109712157654_oYoung Diplomat, writer and photographer, Pharoah Egbuna

Now, several of the youth from Kuala Lumpur are coming to San Francisco to meet their Californian counterparts, and to attend their culminating group exhibition on Friday, May 30, 5:30–9pm featuring youth from both cities. Enjoy live music, Malaysian food and student-led tours of the artwork they have created during Flag Stories!


Of course, all of the cultural learning, connectivity and creativity fostered by Flag Stories wouldn’t have been possible without our generous supporters.


Flag Stories, a Museums Connect project, is made possible in part by a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Museums Connect is administered by the American Alliance of Museums.

Additional partners include: Potrero Hill Neighborhood House, San Francisco Art Institute’s City Studio, Silkworm Media, Bay Area Video Coalition, and the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California.

SOMArts programs are supported by the San Francisco Arts Commission’s Community Arts and Education Program and The San Francisco Foundation.