Regional Digital Storytelling Workshops

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“I have been missing this kind of communication,” says Muna Shimi, an alumna of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, during a digital storytelling workshop at the 2013 iEARN Conference in Doha, Qatar.

The Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, funded by the U.S. Department of State, provides scholarships for secondary school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend one academic year in the United States. Students live with host families, attend high school, engage in activities to learn about American society and values, acquire leadership skills, and help educate Americans about their countries and cultures. 2013 marked the program’s 10th anniversary and nearly 6,800 alumni around the world celebrated with service projects, social media campaigns, and workshops. As a part of the celebration, iEARN-USA organized three regional digital storytelling and social media workshops for YES alumni.

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The workshops enhanced and expanded participants' technical skills in video, photography, blog writing and social media through hands-on projects. Over an intensive five days, participants explored storytelling, interview techniques, and creating accessible messages for both local and international audiences. Participants were divided into production and reporting teams to complete a multimedia project. Each workshop concluded with a screening of the youth created multimedia projects, some of which can be viewed on the YES program’s YouTube channel and the Digital Storyteller’s Blog.

After the workshops, alumni returned to their home community and began producing a short digital storytelling project about another alumni who is positively impacting the society. As a part of the 10th anniversary closing ceremonies, the youth submitted their short films for a Virtual Digital Media Festival. Seven short films were selected for the festival, which was attended by over 60 people who logged in from over 30 different countries. The participating videos can be viewed on the YES program YouTube channel.

iEARN-USA is excited about the impact the Digital Storytelling Workshops have had particularly in building bridges between youth of the same region. They plan to conduct similar workshops in other regions throughout 2014.