Digital Explorer team finds Shangri-la

Found this photograph in a file. The local government in Yunnan Province, China, changed the name of the town of Gyalthang to Shangri-la to encourage tourism. So that’s that debate put to rest! Any other mythical places reinvented as tourist destinations?

Being in the field

Merlin Health Event, Salfit

I was lucky enough to be invited to a Health Education Event in Salfit, West Bank yesterday. It made me think about the Digital Explorer model and how the expeditions so far have been short-lived in terms of actual time in the field, although the digital legacy lives on.

Would it be better to have long-term field-based projects say in the Middle East or Brazil that would continue to create digital media material after the team had left. This would also mean getting involved in capacity building and provision of hardware to projects around the world.

Rather than a single set of ripples from an event, a shift in the model would allow for an ongoing conversation between young people in the UK and young people around the world on important issues.

Any thoughts gratefully received…

ps thank you to Dalal of Merlin for hosting me yesterday and reinvigorating my desire to spend more time in the field

What if?

Honda seem to have cornered the market in my thoughts this week…

What if we invested in young people and gave them a truly global education?

Hate something, Change something

Just watched this Honda advertisement again and it hit home…

Hate something

Change something

Make something better

I think that’s what drives Digital Explorer.

Hate something? Yes, I hate the fact that we are lurching towards massive, global environmental and cultural issues and not providing our children with the education they need to deal with this.

Change something? Yes, put on great interactive, online, digital expeditions and build capacity amongst pupils and teachers in the UK to do the same thing themselves.

Make something better? I think by harnessing pupil to pupil education, the power of the internet and some inspiring young people on a digital media platform, we might just do it.

Come on board to make a better world.

Please help young voices from Lebanon be heard

I have just spent a week working on the next Offscreen Expedition in Beirut and Saida in Lebanon. It’s been truly inspiring – such wonderful energy and passion. One of the things that I hate is having to chose. I interviewed twelve pupils for a place on the expedition to the UK in July this year and have to disappoint ten of them.

I have been thinking about how to provide a platform for some of the voices to be heard and want to provide the support and equipment for them to start making short films and reports about the issues that they face and their lives. Wonderful Irina Prentice has agreed to provide some filming and editing training and now all I need to do is to get a camcorder and MacBook out to Lebanon.

So here’s the deal… I’ve got £500 I can allocate to this, and I reckon that the total cost will be about £1200.

If you have a MacBook in good working order that you don’t need or a decent camcorder please get in touch. Likewise if you would like to fund this, I would be enormously grateful and you will be changing lives at a very grassroots level.

Thank you all!

Tears in the classroom

Sometimes all the work that Digital Explorer seems slightly divorced from the real world. I had two amazing lessons today that reminded me of how much young people in this country deserve a great global education and to be supported.

The first instance was a class doing their Citizenship coursework promoting the work of UNICEF. Groups had gathered round tables talking about different ways that they could work together. We had one group talking about making T-shirts featuring their new cartoon creation ‘Bruce’ the penguin: a cute, cuddly, polar spokes-penguin for child rights everywhere. Another group were telling me how they were going to spend half-term making a flash animation. Wow!

The second moment brought tears to my eye with a class discussing careers and university. We made a circle of the chairs in the classroom – out with the formal rows – and had one chair in the middle. Pupils took it in turns to sit in the middle and talk about hopes, fears and everything else. Chosing options at this age and considering careers is pretty terrifying stuff and some complained of the pressure of results and testing.

Then one short speech really moved me. A pupil explained how her family never had enough money for her to go on school trips or for nice clothes. She wanted to know if she would be able to afford to go to university. She would be the first member of her family to do so. She wanted to make them proud and to succeed.

It really brought home to me three things:

  • we need to provide a great and engaging global curriculum for our young people
  • we need to provide more opportunities for young people who wouldn’t ordinarily have them
  • these young people are amazing – don’t believe what you read in the papers!

This is the video that has been inspiring us in the classroom…

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