Cameras and recorders in hand, youth around the world are partnering with WKCD to document the traditions and the tensions of the communities they call home. The issues they raise are at once personal and political, local and global—and the fresh eyes of youth bring new perspectives to challenges old and new. We invite you to dip into this collection of contrasts and commonalities, and then to add your voice to the mix!
Democrats | Republicans
When the youth-led news bureau Y-Press covered the recent Presidential conventions, half the team camped out at the DNC and the other half at the RNC. Each produced slideshows and audio commentaries that capture what makes the Democrats blue and the Republicans red (and why we need to find common ground between the two).
Temple of Heaven Park, Beijing, China | Village Green, Panyola, Hungary
Every day at dawn, Beijing’s Temple of Heaven Park springs to life. Adults of all ages go through their paces—whether through Tai Chi or ribbon dancing, strength training or stretching, ballroom dancing or calisthenics. The sounds of games and music fill the air. By nine a.m. the festivities wind down and the people disappear. Another day has begun in busy Beijing.
Each summer the small village of Panyola in eastern Hungary hosts a three-day cultural festival, with youth volunteers from around the country lending their helping hands. Traditional cuisine and beer flow freely and the music never stops. The party starts and ends late.
WKCD worked with youth in Beijing and Hungary to produce these audio slideshows, as part of the Adobe Youth Voices initiative.
Bronx Leadership Academy 2, Bronx, NY | Oak Park and River Forest HS, Chicago, IL
How can you tell if a person is smart? Dinah, a student at a small high school in the Bronx, sees it this way: “Say we’re in an English class, I would expect the person to use proper grammar and to behave a certain way. When we’re outside, though, you have to act a different way. You have to fit in with the crowd, because if you don’t, then they won’t see you as street smart. They’re going to see you as only book smart. So you have to be smart in many different ways to be completely smart.”
Eliot, a student at a suburban Chicago high school where 90 percent of the students go on to college, offers this take: “If someone really understands books, and just doesn’t memorize them, but comprehends them, that person can be tossed into any situation and be expected to actually figure it out. They don’t have the background of that situation, but if they have spent their entire life studying and examining texts, artifacts or chemicals in a lab, they can go out and examine and understand situations in the real world, too.”
WKCD interviewed students at both schools and gathered their thoughts on what makes a person smart.
Albion, New York | Kambi ya Simba, Tanzania
In the town of Albion in upstate New York, students understandably take running water for granted. Shiny drinking fountains and bathrooms with toilets don’t get a second look, and the high school swimming pool doesn’t raise any eyebrows.
Six thousand miles away, in the Tanzanian village of Kambi ya Simba, students use jugs to fetch water from the nearest pump and bring it back to school, where the water is then used for drinking (after being boiled), cooking, and cleaning. At the primary school, the nearest water pump runs dry six months of the year. Then, it’s a five-kilometer walk to fetch water.
As part of WKCD’s “In Our Global Village” program, students in Albion and Kambi ya Simba have shared water stories.
Sistas and Brothers
Early Marriage and Pregnancy at Bronx International High School | Violence and Stereotyping at Boston Arts Academy
At Bronx International High School, it’s not unusual for female students from West Africa to find themselves caught between two worlds. While their families often expect them to leave school, marry, and bear children, the girls may desire to postpone motherhood and pursue academic and career goals. Students and their families wrestle with their conflicting dreams, often with heartbreaking decisions and consequences. In a 17-minute video, “Experiencing Tradition,” two female students interview their classmates and offer a straight-up, heated look at this ongoing conflict.
In Boston, within a baseball’s throw of Fenway Park, an ensemble of young men of color stare down their demons. They discuss sex, racism, fathers, anger, guns, and drug addiction. The typical rules of masculinity are suspended, in this zone where nothing is off limits. Jokes and insults flow naturally; and strangely, tears do too. The more powerful the emotions that surface, the better. Their film, “Soul Element,” puts a sharp point on their struggles.
Side by Side
Noida, India | Cluj Napoca, Romania | San Francisco, CA
In cities around the world, globalization is producing contrasts at every turn: old versus new, Eastern versus Western, wealth versus poverty, local versus multinational.
As part of a WKCD-Adobe Youth Voices cross-cultural study on the impact of globalization, students at the Noida Public Senior Secondary School in Noida, India (just outside Delhi), Roma youth in Cluj Napoca, Romania, and students at Build San Francisco Institute in California set out with digital cameras to capture these contrasts. Their audio slideshows burst with “side by sides”: horses from a traveling circus grazing in a dirt-filled lot in downtown Delhi right next to a stunning new shopping mall; a homeless man sitting on a curb next to a limousine in San Francisco; tourists sipping espressos at a street café while a Roma family sips soup at their kitchen table in Cluj Napoca.
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“There’s a radical—and wonderful—new idea here… that all children could and should be inventors of their own theories, critics of other people’s ideas, analyzers of evidence, and makers of their own personal marks on the world.”
– Deborah Meier, educator