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Digital Storytelling Workshop Facilitates Healing
Through Personal Video Stories
Guardian Scholars Jessica and Sean
Guardian Scholars Jessica Greer and Sean Guthrie recently participated in a digital storytelling workshop, where they and eight others each produced their life story videos as a way to facilitate personal development and increase self-awareness.

Students find a positive experience produces positive self-esteem.

by Gail Matsunaga
March 3, 2005

Healing especially emotional or psychological can come in many forms and as varied as the individuals involved. For 10 students from the Guardian Scholars Program committed to supporting ambitious, college-bound youths exiting the foster care system part of the healing process included attending a digital storytelling workshop held during Intersession in Berkeley .

Funded by a portion of a gift received by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the intensive, four-day workshop gave scholars the opportunity to develop personal three-to-five-minute digital stories using their own words, images and music.

It gives participants complete control in telling a story about a situation over which they had no control, says Amy Hill, community projects director for the Center for Digital Storytelling. It's a way for people to begin resolving painful issues with their past.

For Guardian Scholar Jessica Greer, I felt it was a good opportunity to get my baggage out there and not have to deal with it any more.

Freshman Sean Guthrie found that the experience helped him grow. When you go to college you have to be on your own, be mature; you have to let go of the baggage of family drama.

During Summer Bridge last year, I met my biological mother. And in watching my video, I was able to say, You gave birth to me, but now it's time to say goodbye.' It's also a tribute to my foster mother, because she raised me since I was six years old.

Over the course of the workshop, the scholars learned how to create a digital story, developed their story ideas/scripts, received training on the software being used, produced their projects and shared the final product with the class. Among the most affecting times for the students occurred when they shared and reviewed their stories with each other.

When we first sat around the table and read our scripts, it was very emotional, says Greer.

It kind of humbles you. You think you have the worst story, then you see that all your stories are very similar, adds Guthrie.

It was a very good experience for the students, says Robert L. Palmer, vice president for student affairs. It gave them the opportunity for interpersonal exploration. I think the whole exercise and activity helped to build positive self-esteem.

Each student received a CD copy of their project, of which they hold the rights. Regardless of how they choose to use them, these digital stories have already gone a long way toward enabling 10 former foster youths to take a giant step forward.

When I came back, says Guthrie, I felt so much more mature.

Now, it's just something I can show, and not have to talk about it any more, says Greer. It's like finally feeling you got something off your chest.


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