Out of Eden Learn produces “Glimpses from the Classroom” videos (here’s one of a 5th grade class in Marblehead, Massachusetts, USA, and another of a kindergarten class in Piraeus, Greece) to provide our community with windows into what Out of Eden Learn looks like and means for participants. Naturally, we planned for the next video in the series to feature older students. Rather than produce another “Glimpses” video, we wanted to support youth to document and share their own experiences. To do so, we developed a collaborative and experiential visual storytelling workshop for two groups of high school youth participating in Out of Eden Learn’s specialized curriculum, Stories of Human Migration. Watch the film they produced here or at the bottom of this post.
Keeping with Out of Eden Learn’s core values, the workshop emphasized the necessity of building bridges between and among cultures, that youth voice and story-sharing are integral to building these bridges, and that we must approach digesting and producing media with a certain critical awareness. A mix of visual storytelling techniques, Project Zero thinking routines, and critical media pedagogy, the workshop provided students tools to film and share their experiences as they participate together in Out of Eden Learn.
I had the honor of traveling to Beaverton, Oregon and Singapore to visit these two high school classes and lead the workshop. My colleague, Emi Kane, Director of Programs at the Abundance Foundation, joined me in Singapore to support and document the workshop. Emi ran a session connecting youth via Skype to an artist whose work focuses on migrant experiences and stories and will share a blog post about this session in the coming weeks.
The visual storytelling workshop was executed similarly at each site. Below I’ll share some highlights from the two weeks along with the film students co-produced, Traversing Worlds.
As a result of two generative brainstorms, one at each location, three major themes bubbled up to help shape the direction youth would take the video:
- storytelling: sharing stories because it “feels good” and exchanging stories to build understanding, connect and relate
- shifts in perspective: learning about cultures different from your own and being surprised and moved by both similarities and differences
- “safe space”: Out of Eden Learn as a safe place to share your story and provides a “safety net” that regular social media does not
Students split into groups and decided who would be interviewed and who would do the interviewing, who was in charge of choosing/producing the music, and what shots they needed to help share their story.
The students planned and led the interviews and did most of the filming.
We gave students time to reflect on what they were learning and enjoying from the process throughout the week.
Youth filmed an Everyday Borders walk, capturing one of the activities from the Stories of Human Migration curriculum.
They filmed one another exploring and posting to the Out of Eden Learn platform.
They came up with their own ways to capture interesting angles/panning shots.
They captured footage both in and out of the classroom.
At the end of the workshop, students shared what they hoped people would get out of their video:
“I hope people can see that we all have a different story besides the single story that the media portrays.”
“I want them to see stories of migration from a different perspective.”
“There is more to someone than their color or beliefs.”
“To see the world as connected and not in fragments”
“I hope people will take away from our video the importance of interacting with people we don’t know”
It is pretty incredible how much we did in the two weeks of workshopping. I was personally really moved by the students’ collective commitment to producing a thoughtful and evocative piece and learning as much as they could in the process. And, of course, we had a lot of fun working together!
Two months after the workshop, the video was in a form ready to share. Oliver Brown, educator at Merlo Station High School in Beaverton, and Sandra Teng, educator at Nanyang Girls’ High School in Singapore both organized community screenings of the film and invited family and community members to view, share and reflect. At both screenings, the youth filmmakers spoke about the experience.
“You need to experience something new if you want to learn more. Leave your bubble and make new friends or leave your bubble and communicate more, leave your bubble and start a positive life. You can’t just be clustered in a little bubble forever.”
-Juritzi Dona Montoya
Watch the final video, Traversing Worlds: