During the first month of the Fall 2020 semester, students from UMBC’s MCS 495/695 and Hong Kong University’s CAES2002 classes collaborated on a digital story assignment. The two classes shared stories on the theme “Global Voices in a Time of Pandemic” through a series of virtual story circles and online galleries. The stories created and collected in this project present a dialog between students on opposite sides of the world, reflecting on shared and varied experiences during this pivotal global moment.
The storytellers met online to share and discuss initial story drafts. From this process, common themes emerged to form the foundation for the project. Using the WeVideo editing platform, students worked for several weeks to complete their individual stories with periodic feedback and technical assistance from faculty members and teaching assistants.
The Global Voices stories are showcased in a Flipgrid Gallery where you may leave video and written comments for the storytellers. You may also view some of the stories on YouTube.:
Here are two stories by our teaching assistants for the project: Ahmad Al-Olabi (UMBC) and Ei Ei San (HKU). We share them here by way of introducing you to them as well as giving you a sense of the power of digital storytelling. Coincidentally, both are entitled The Journey:
Ei Ei San (HKU) The Journey
Ahmad Al-Olabi (UMBC) The Journey – Swim or Die
In creating this project the primary rationale is to create a learning experience for students, but in this process we strive to have a positive social impact. The sharing of stories should be empowering to the storytellers. The stories they tell can foster cross cultural understanding and social connections at a time when we need it more than ever. Finally, the process of creating stories by Digital Storytelling gives people an opportunity to be social with others at a time when we are all suffering from physical isolation due to covid.
These grass roots connections are at the heart of the project, but to keep momentum up so that we can recruit more facilitators and storytellers to engage in this practice necessitates that we help publicize the work that you are doing. As the first cohort, you are paving the pathway for those who will follow. If we can create a framework that has some energy behind it, then the work we all do will be more impactful in the future.
The GlobalVoices.Space website.
Some stories created from both institutions will be showcased on this website. We have an initial design for the website below, but otherwise this is a work in progress. (At the time of writing there is NO content yet, but we own it.) The GlobalVoices website will give some students the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the WordPress control panel to help generate web content. The website can also be a place to showcase the work of our students in Myanmar/Thailand. By creating a professional looking website and generating some social media buzz, you are creating an authentic context for the publication of your work and the work of your students. Having this context creates a sense of celebration around the sharing of the stories that will be generated through the work you undertake.
The GlobalVoices project should have some visual identity around which we can brand the project. The initial design shown here is an initial proposal. It captures imagery of the story circle, the globe and the pandemic.
Social media presence
Getting the word out means creating ways of distributing content and generating traffic through social media. This will be particularly important to many of the participants in the workshops that you will be facilitating.
Although the social impact element of this work doesn’t always seem to be front and center while you are undertaking the work involved in building up a sustainable project we should not lose sight of wanting to achieve a positive social impact through the work we undertake. The aim of Global Voices is not just to create a website, we are trying to give our storytellers a voice, and a space where their voice can be heard.