Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Workshop 2

                  Try to picture it--- 15 high school students in a small room, excitedly fiddling with their new cameras; chatter, laughter, snapping photos. This is the image of the Peace in Focus Workshop #2—Introduction to Digital Storytelling. Our second workshop of the summer ran from July 8th through July 19th. Our all-star college students arrived on Day 1 of the workshop full of energy and ready to pass all their knowledge on to the high school students. The room was filled with dedicated youth, ready to work together as young leaders and change their community for the better.

                  Similarly to Workshop 1, we made our way through the Peace in Focus manual. Almost every day we took breaks, usually to go outside. Frequently we broke out into small groups and went on photo scavenger hunts around the neighborhood. Students responded very well to our activities. One of their favorite parts was re-grouping after small group photo time and viewing each other’s work. They were inspired and motivated by each other.

                  Many of the students indicated that one highlight of their experience was a series of debates that we had surrounding the question of photography used as a way to display the raw truth of conflict in the world, and photography as a way of exploiting poverty and war zones. I shot a great video of one of these debates, and will try my best to upload it here to the blog. If that doesn’t work, I will post a link to the video later. The debate truly split the room-- half the students advocated that photography can be a powerful tool to tell the world what’s happening in a given area, while the other half wholeheartedly believed that too often, photography is a tool of exploitation, and that photos of impoverished children and war-torn areas do not create effective change. Of course, there was no right answer, but it is a critical question to consider while pursuing a career in photography or photo journalism.

                  For us, it was incredibly rewarding to see our trained college students take strong leadership roles for Workshop 2. This was a pilot model for us, and we look forward to using it again in the future, and to teaching this model to other organizations. We are well aware that it is difficult to sustain small projects such as this, but perhaps this model is the key to continuing PIF work. We hope that next year, our trained PIF facilitators at ACEDONE will be able to continue this important work, and work with a new group of high school students in the Roxbury community. They are now equipped with the tools, experience, and passion to continue fueling the project!
To view all of our photos from Workshop 2, visit our Facebook

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Workshop 1

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Summer 2013, Workshop 1: "The Training of Trainers"

                We’re thrilled to report that summer 2013 was incredibly eventful for Peace in Focus. We partnered with ACEDONE (African Community Economic Development of New England) for the third summer in a row.  We started off with a two-week workshop called the “training of trainers.” Our goal for this workshop was to train 5 college students in digital storytelling facilitation. Thus, by the end of the training, all five would be Peace in Focus facilitators, enabling them to help us lead a second workshop for high school students. The first workshop took place from June 3rd and ran through June 14th. We worked with amazing young people who are not only passionate about their busy college lives, but also about becoming leaders in their community of Somali immigrants and refugees.

                Our workshop started with the students brainstorming about their goals and expectations. 

In this way, we all held each other accountable to our group rules, expectations, and goals. We moved quickly through the Peace in Focus training manual, in which there were three modules. Activities in these modules include story of self, self-lens, life plot, as well as composition tips, visual literacy, and the art of effective digital storytelling. In this way, our students simultaneously increased their knowledge of camera-use, while practicing digital storytelling. 

The students learned to photograph objects, locations, people and places in their neighborhoods that they wanted to change. Thus, the photography was used as a lens through which students looked and saw what they wished to change about their communities.

                All of our college students who participated in Workshop 1 have a strong connection to Somalia. Each of their parents came to the US from Somalia either by choice, or as a result of conflict within Somalia. We had numerous lively debates and conversations about how Somalia is portrayed in the news. We used Somalia as an example of how we can use photography as a catalyst for positive change in order to combat the media’s negative portrayal of both Somalia and Africa. “The Danger of a Single Story,” a TED Talk by Chimamanda Adichie sparked even more debate about the story of Somalia. By the end of our workshop, the students came to the conclusion that educating others through digital storytelling truly could have a positive result, and slowly we can work together to change the narrative of Somalia and Africa.

                The overarching goal of the “training of trainers” was to enable our students to become PIF facilitators. We successfully accomplished this, and our incredible college students were ready to take on the 15-20 high school students during Workshop 2!

                To see some of our students’ bios, as well as more photos from Workshop 1, please click this link to our Facebook album from Workshop 1.