YES Digital Storytelling Workshop


iEARN-USA works with various partners and programs to build a network of opportunities for young people to work together. One of those programs is the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Program (YES). The 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 schools, engage in activities to learn about American society and values, acquire leadership skills, and help educate Americans about their countries and cultures.

From October 2 to October 7, 2018 iEARN-USA and iEARN-BD YES teams hosted a YES Program Digital Storytelling Workshop (DSW) for 18 YES alumni from 11 different countries. In today’s multimedia environment, activism and community service require a range of communication and media skills, which is why iEARN found it imperative to provide such a workshop for YES alumni.


At the beginning of the workshop YES alumni were asked: What was something that changed your perspective on your YES year? DSW participants didn’t simply answer the question, but responded by creating a digital story that dove into their personal narratives. In four days, YES alumni pitched stories, wrote scripts, interviewed, filmed, and produced short digital stories about four of the DSW participants and how something on their YES year shifted their perspectives.


The alumni didn’t do this alone, three professional videographers taught YES alumni a range of contemporary multimedia and videography skills and mentored them throughout the production process. YES alumni attended sessions on conducting interviews, capturing a story, telling visual stories, the art of photography, developing photo essays, creating a story arc, writing a script, the elements of production, and the post production process, which included advanced editing techniques. With this new knowledge, DSW participants produced four beautiful short films, which you can watch at the bottom of this story or on the YES YouTube page.

Throughout the workshop, YES alumni were challenged to practice their videography and photography skills through photo essay challenges, photo walks, and capturing portrait and documentary images. You can see some of their images in a Flickr album and on their Digital Storytelling blog.

With their new skills, YES alumni will be able to further engage their commitment to service projects and bettering their communities with multimedia and digital initiatives. The YES alumni who attended DSW now have the skillset to present their work beyond documentation, and share their work and impact with peers, community leaders, and decision makers to build awareness and continue to better our societies. Be on the lookout for some incredible new digital stories to surface from YES alumni!