Bridges to Understanding realizes its mission by enabling youth to craft and share their stories with each other and the world. By leveraging a centuries old medium, storytelling, with 21st century technology, Bridges to Understanding puts the power of the story in the hands of the storyteller and allows these stories to be shared over thousands of miles. At Bridges, youth whose voices are often marginalized, shift into a narrator role that inspires confidence, builds community, and highlights their core values.
Bridges to Understanding provided a technological avenue that enabled my students to tell their stories. The use of digital cameras allowed them to see immediate results and collaborate with their classmates to produce a final product that shared a part of their lives with their classmates and classmates in distant parts of the world. A Bridges photography volunteer came to my classroom every week to work with the students and Bridges provided workshop opportunities for those who wanted to learn advanced techniques. They read the stories of students who lived in exile, poverty, and isolation while at the same time sharing their traditions, culture, joys, and problems. My students were able to communicate via the internet one on one with students in Tibet and Peru. Bridges to Understanding opened the eyes of my students to differences and commonalities in the world. Digital stories were made about religious festivals, games and sports, and the daily lives of my students. This organization gave my students the opportunity to learn about cameras, slide shows, auditory recordings, and the creation of digital stories. These are the technical skills they will be able to carry with them in the future, but more important, they learned about other cultures by making a very personal connection. I was so impressed with the involvement and outcome in many of the classrooms, I continued to work with Bridges as a volunteer after I retired. I now work in the office and in the classroom as a volunteer.
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.