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September 30, 2010

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September 30, 2010

I absolutely love this organization! For the past few years my students have had the opportunity to create digital stories with the help of staff and volunteers from Bridges. I have also participated in their workshops and have helped to adapt some of the curriculum through using it in the classroom. I can say that every student who has participated in the project has learned a lot and had a great experience. My classes have made stories on a variety of issues related to their own lives, a very empowering and eye-opening journey. Some great stories have been made on poverty, homelessness, food waste, and where our cafeteria food comes from. I never hesitate to welcome Bridges into my class because I know the experience will streghten classroom culture and bonds as well as build critical thinking and media skills. My only heartbreak is that not all of my classes have the opprtunity to do the project.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I can say that one year we took a very challenging class and through the experience with Bridges built bonds that carried throughout the rest of our school year. Students in that class kept their grades up, and attended class more regularly.

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

September 30, 2010

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September 30, 2010

I knew that Bridges To Understanding was the right organization for me to volunteer for after I took a 4-day digital storytelling workshop from Phil Borges that also certified us to work as mentors in classrooms on these global exchanges. I was lucky to be in the workshop with 6 students from a township near Cape Town, South Africa, who were here during a face-to-face Bridges student exchange. I got to work with one of the boys, Akhona, one-one-one for four days on our digital story and loved every minute of it. Having this personal connection with Akhona and the other students from South Africa, I have been educating myself on the history and current events of South Africa and my interest is expanding to other parts of Africa as well. Since that workshop, I have been working in different classrooms and schools as a Bridges mentor helping teachers and students learn about photography and multimedia to tell their stories and to build partnerships with classrooms in other parts of the world. Phil Borges said once: “Although the US has the most powerful military and media presence on earth, we are becoming the least globally aware.” During the classroom work, I witness how students build relationships, become friends with someone at the Tibetan Children’s Village in Dharamsala, India, from an indigenous community in Peru or from the townships in South Africa. The students realize very quickly that a person living in the townships in South Africa actually has a lot of similar desires and wishes in their life as we do here, and they start to feel personally connected even though they are across the world from each other. It is very exciting to see how these personal relationships spark the students’ interest and build empathy and care for people in other parts of the world. Creating awareness for other parts of the world, learning with and about people from other cultures and thereby also learning more about ourselves is what this work is all about. It brings out the understanding and feeling of responsibility that what happens in the world is really a collective one. It is very encouraging and heart-warming to see these students from radically different backgrounds learn directly from, rather than, about each other in such a creative, collaborative way and start to deeply care for each other! The work with “Bridges to Understanding” gives me a great personal satisfaction, joy and a profound hope for a better and more compassionate world. It is dear to my heart to work with people from all over the world, learn about and with them and promote a global perspective and responsibility as much as I can.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have seen first-hand how students in the classrooms here in Seattle have developed curiosity, empathy and strong relationships with students from other parts of the world and how this has changed their sense of self and place in the world.

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

September 28, 2010

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September 28, 2010

Bridges to Understanding is an organization that absolutely sucks you in! I come away from every interaction inspired to do more and be further involved. One of my favorite aspects of the Bridges program is how it utilizes, and even requires, exposure to foreign cultures as a way to better understand your own. Interactions with interns and with sites around the world encourage students to critically examine their own communities. The juxtaposition of students' own culture with others leads them to recognize their own unique qualities while at the same time connecting with foreign students over the similarities that exist throughout humanity and across all cultures. The Bridges program teaches youth that they can take pride in their own culture without looking down upon other cultures and that they can learn from their differences rather than feeling threatened by them.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my classroom in India where the use of photography and storytelling as a medium to explore community problems was incredibly successful. Photography provided tangible metaphors for complex ideas that were presented across a language barrier.

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

September 27, 2010

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September 27, 2010

This is a great organization that uses IT as a way to connect and empower children. When I volunteered in a classroom using their curriculum, they not only learned about digital story telling, but also spent time talking about what issues they would like to share. They also had a chance to connect with a class in South Africa. The high school kids in the class were a tough bunch, so not everything went smoothly, but the students were engaged and pleased with the results of their digital stories. I am so impressed with this organization that I have now joined the board!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have observed high school students become more connected to their environment through telling digital stories about environmental issues.

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

October 1, 2009

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October 1, 2009

I have taken their workshop and volunteered with the organization - every encounter was educational and positive, and it enlarged my sense of community. I am 70 years old, and love the challenge of doing new things, with new technology, and with new people. Not only do they empower youth, they empower elders!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Through making friends from different countries, different ages, and different backgrounds. It did build bridges.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Have more paid full time staff who would be there from one year to the next. Interns are wonderful, but they come and go (often).

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Seeing eyes light up as people (old and young) felt they were able to really communicate creatively.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

I met very talented people from the fields of media, fund raising, and social networking. They have been energetic and up-beat individuals.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Bring this unique technology into many more classrooms and hire many more mentors and teachers so that children from all areas of the world could communicate about shared issues in their lives.

Ways to make it better...

I was more tech savy

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Funding.

One thing I'd also say is that...

They really need to be in more local classrooms.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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