This digital storytelling lab offers high school students the opportunity to share stories of life during the pandemic, experiment with creative media to form a record of their experiences, and bear witness to the stories of others. Participants in this immersive and restorative two-week program join a storytelling community dedicated to processing the challenges of life at this time and seeking meaning and hope through the creative process.
In addition to writing about their own lives, students interview each other (and potentially interview members of their families and communities) to help build empathy and promote connection with different points-of-view. Participants train their ears to listen more fully to their own voices and the voices of those around them, tuning into new frequencies made accessible by the shifting presences and absences of life in a time of social distancing. In the process, course participants consider the significant ethical complexities and responsibilities of representing another person’s words and experiences in a creative work. Students may also engage with other storytelling forms of their choosing, such as photography, video, audio recording, sound/music creation, and/or visual art, as they seek to represent their individual and collective experiences of life during the pandemic. (Prior experience in any of these areas is welcome but not required.) The course culminates in a digital storytelling showcase.
The digital storytelling lab, a dynamic online program including engaging synchronous experiences, is led by current and former Columbia University instructors who also have many years of experience working with high-performing high school students in the U.S. and internationally. Students are eligible to receive a certificate of distinguished participation from Columbia University, Teachers College and may also generate unique experiences and creations that could be incorporated into college admissions essays and portfolios in the future. Although the course is designed as a respite from the routines of online learning, the program enhances participants’ skills in communication, imagination, and empathy—all of which are essential for success in the academically rigorous environments characteristic of elite colleges and universities.
A laptop, desktop or tablet equipped with webcam and stable internet connection is be required for participation in the program.