That's a Wrap! Digital Storytelling Workshop 2020

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Photo essays created by participants of the 2020 Digital Storytelling Workshop

What makes a good story? That was the question 36 high school students from the U.S. and Morocco were asked during the virtual Digital Storytelling Workshop from August 3 - 14, 2020. Funded by the Stevens Initiative, the Digital Storytelling Workshop was a ten-day immersive experience with daily activities that fostered self-exploration and compelling storytelling through digital technology skills. Students working from home in the U.S. and all across Morocco, created video mediated and structured stories on their life experiences to establish mutual understanding and strengthen tolerance. Each student developed their personal story arc and worked in virtual teams to collaborate on and interactively critique their stories.

Wendy Jacques and Austin Haeberle, two professional videographers and journalists, taught students a range of contemporary multimedia and videography skills and, together with two alumni assistants, mentored them through the production process. Participants attended daily sessions on the art of photography, developing photo essays, creating a dramatic story arc, writing a script, conducting interviews, and the elements of video production. 

Participants were broken into nine production teams, and each member of the team pitched a story about a struggle they have overcome in their life. Working as a collaborative unit, each group selected one story to turn into a digital storytelling film. After four days full of long sessions, filming, photographing, producing and editing, the films were ready for the virtual film festival. Check out the films and web pages created by the students below. 

Participants were delighted to have Andie Shafer from the Stevens Initiative attend the film festival along with their family, friends and teachers. The audience members watched the films and had a chance to ask the participants questions about their stories and production process. 

Throughout the workshop, the participants developed multimedia technical skills and learned skills in collaboration, teamwork and cross-cultural communication. One student commented, “I learned that communication, collaboration, and teamwork are needed to work in a group.” Another student stated, “what I have learned so far from the workshop is that you have to work together as a group and get to know one another.” By working together and sharing their stories, the participants also learned about each other’s cultures and customs. When asked about what they learned, one participant shared, “I have learned so many new things about America, the American society and about the film industry.” Another participant remarked that “getting to know other people from different places” was their favorite part about the workshop.” 

The Digital Storytelling Workshop equipped the participants with new skills to tell their stories, build awareness for issues they feel passionate about, and continue to better our world. 

The Digital Storytelling Workshop was supported by the Stevens Initiative, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, with funding provided by the U.S. Government, and is administered by the Aspen Institute. The Stevens Initiative is also supported by the Bezos Family Foundation and the governments of Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

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