On Friday, October 4, students and faculty from Durham College’s (DC) School of Media, Art & Design will travel for ten days to rural regions of Guatemala as part of a new digital storytelling program, called Youth United 2030, contributing to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The program is being delivered in partnership with a Canadian charity, Students Offering Support (SOS), which has facilitated youth service-learning programs throughout Latin America since 2008.
With the support of faculty member, and former CBC journalist, Danielle Harder, students from DC’s Video Production and Journalism – Mass Media/Journalism programs are part of a faculty-led classroom abroad, where they will utilize the skills learned in their programs to deliver interactive training workshops for 35 low-income Guatemalan youth to learn about using digital storytelling techniques as a tool for change. In addition to delivering workshops participants have fundraised to donate iPads so youth participants from the host communities will have access to technology to put the training into action. A second cohort of DC students will be travelling to Guatemala in February, alongside Harder, to deliver follow-up training opportunities, and continue producing new media content, as part of the ongoing program.
Upon the students’ return from Guatemala, the students will turn their interviews and video footage into short documentaries offering cross-cultural perspectives on the SDGs.
“Youth United is all about reciprocal exchange. It empowers Durham College students to build their cross-cultural competencies alongside their technical skills, while experiencing how the knowledge they’re learning through their studies can make a difference on issues that matter,” said Harder. She and her students recently won an international PIEoneer Award for real-life learning for a film project in 2018 that engaged them in global issues through documenting a development program led by Canadian colleges in Kenya.
DC and SOS began working together after a connection was forged at a National conference co-organized by Academica and Academics Without Borders, called “Reaching Across Borders, Building a Better World”. Lisa Shepard, DC’s dean of International Education, had this to say about the new program: “We believe in global competency as a critical 21st-century learning skill. Durham College supports education abroad initiatives such as faculty-led classrooms abroad, which provide opportunities for students to expand their learning beyond their traditional classrooms by taking part in an international learning experience. At Durham College we embed internalization in everything we do, both by bringing the world to DC, and by bringing DC to the world. Our students are so excited to meet their Guatemalan counterparts and have already learned so much”.
James Arron, executive director of SOS echoed the importance of the educational sector’s role in achieving the SDGs. “By linking together the needs of our Guatemalan partners and capacity of Durham College, we have been able to create a truly win-win solution for everyone involved. It’s a great example of how the post-secondary sector can be a leader in helping achieve the SDGs. Kudos to Durham College for stepping up as a pioneer in that movement.”