Students find a positive experience
produces positive self-esteem.
by Gail Matsunaga
March 3, 2005
Healing ö especially emotional or psychological
ö can come in many forms and as varied as the individuals involved.
For 10 students from the Guardian Scholars Program ö committed to
supporting ambitious, college-bound youths exiting the foster care
system ö 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 ö using their own words, images and music.
ãIt gives participants complete control in telling
a story about a situation over which they had no control,ä says
Amy Hill, community projects director for the Center
for Digital Storytelling. ãIt's a way for people to
begin resolving painful issues with their past.ä
For Guardian Scholar Jessica Greer, ãI felt it was
a good opportunity to get my baggage out there and not have to deal
with it any more.ä
Freshman Sean Guthrie found that the experience helped
him grow. ãWhen you go to college you have to be on your own, be
mature; you have to let go of the baggage of family drama.
ãDuring Summer Bridge last year, I met my biological
mother. And in watching my video, I was able to say, ÎYou 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.ä
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.
ãWhen we first sat around the table and read our
scripts, it was very emotional,ä says Greer.
ãIt kind of humbles you. You think you have the worst
story, then you see that all your stories are very similar,ä adds
ãIt was a very good experience for the students,ä
says Robert L. Palmer, vice president for student affairs. ãIt gave
them the opportunity for interpersonal exploration. I think the
whole exercise and activity helped to build positive self-esteem.ä
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.
ãWhen I came back,ä says Guthrie, ãI felt so much
ãNow, it's just something I can show, and not have
to talk about it any more,ä says Greer. ãIt's like finally feeling
you got something off your chest.ä
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