OCU is one of two universities in the United States participating in a global digital storytelling project.
Students will host a workshop through StoryA, a project within the digital storytelling movement, on Friday in Walker Center for Arts and Sciences.
The project includes 12 universities across the globe, with OCU and University of California, Berkeley being the only two from the U.S. The OCU workshop is for any student with experiences abroad.
StoryA was created to help people express the impact of their study abroad experiences on their lives. People share their abroad stories, with the goal of helping others experience different cultures.
“Biographies are always about famous people or people with money, but everyday people are just as interesting and important,” said Ashely Kinard, French and film production sophomore. “When people come home after being abroad, they do not always know who they can discuss their experiences with. We hope to provide an outlet and help them share their stories.”
StoryA started in Europe when an international group of scholars and teachers received a grant to study how youth experience living and learning in other countries. They used the grant to create StoryAbroad (StoryA) as a way to share stories from various cultures.
When the facilitators wanted to expand their project, they turned to StoryCenter at UC Berkeley, where digital storytelling was founded.
Dr. Brooke Hessler, OCU professor of writing and composition, worked with StoryCenter and trained faculty from other institutions to teach digital storytelling. She has a connection with StoryCenter’s founder, who invited her and her OCU students to participate in StoryA.
To contribute to the project, students can create a two or three-minute video about their experiences while studying, traveling or living abroad. Kinard and Anna Nguyen, marketing junior, are deputy facilitators of digital storytelling. They already created their videos and are helping other students do the same.
Video content includes Nguyen’s study abroad experience in London, Kinard’s work at a children’s camp in Budapest, and Arrash Allahyar, cell and molecular biology senior, speaking about his family’s tea farm in Iran. The group wants to help at least eight new travelers document their experiences at their next workshop Friday.
At the workshop, participants will choose a moment from their abroad experience and write it down. Facilitators will be available to help with brainstorming, story arrangement, voice recording, and video editing in the recording software. The workshop is designed for eight to 12 students, and each participant will receive $50 if they finish their video.
“It is a place for your story and voice to be heard,” Nguyen said. “When people come back from being abroad, they keep everything in a shoebox of memories. Presenting their stories gives them the chance to reflect and feel fulfilled.”
Every student who creates a video through a workshop will get to share their story in some way.
Hessler said she plans to send 15 videos from OCU to add to selections from UC Berkeley. From there, five to 10 videos will be chosen to comprise America’s contribution to the official StoryA study. These selections will appear on StoryA’s YouTube channel. The videos from OCU students will be posted on OCU’s story abroad channel.
StoryA will show the videos chosen for the study at a conference in March at Cape Peninsula University of Technology in South Africa, Hessler said. The project’s organizers will screen and study the stories with an international audience of academic facilitators.
Hessler said she plans to attend the conference and collaborate with Nguyen to create a related research project. Through social media, they want to find convenient ways for people who made each video to connect with each other. By introducing students online, they want to facilitate a relationship where students feel comfortable discussing and sharing insights that arose in each others’ stories.
“I will send an email to the campus to recruit students with many different life experiences for the workshop,” Hessler said. “Diversity is key. That way the project gives us a way to have deeper, more creative conversations and to learn what it means to live and work in a country that’s not our home nation.”
To participate in the workshop or learn more about OCU’s participation in StoryA, email Hessler at firstname.lastname@example.org, Nguyen at email@example.com, or Kinard at firstname.lastname@example.org.