Inspired by Langston Hughes’ poem, the title of our three summer Citizen Journalism pilot projects is I, Too, Am America. Our goal is to ensure that youth voices that are ordinarily never heard are given a platform through which they can document their experiences of exposure-trips, and express their ideas through reflections.
June 14 marked the first day of orientation trainings for Illuminated 2014 Youth-Fellows. We had ten students in attendance, who included two of our S. Bronx Youth-Fellows from last summer now interning with us. We are still waiting to welcome two of our Youth-Fellows from the south side of Chicago who are arriving on June 19. One of them, Elizabeth Bueno, will be trained on Illuminated concepts such as segregation and our heroism framework before she embarks on her journey to China through Putney Student Travel.
As our youth-fellows travel within New York City, Washington D.C., Detroit, Chicago, and China, they will all be investigating the question, “What does heroism look like and mean to the segregated communities we visit?” In doing so, we hope that patterns emerge that can help us identify what infrastructures need to be in place to promote every-day heroism. For our first day, we introduced students to terms and concepts that will help them approach heroism in a critical manner. Our first three trainings were as follows:
Training #1: The Why, How, and What of the Illuminated Cities Project
Summary: Why is Illuminated focusing its work on heroism? How can mobility be empowering and when can it signify detrimental patterns for an individual or a community? Youth–Fellows discussed our vision, mission, and programmatic objectives to explore the answers to these questions. They were introduced to the stories of current and former team members and the story of Illuminated.
Training #2: What is Segregation?
Summary: Youth-Fellows learned about concepts connected to segregation and we examined, specifically, the effects of segregation on education and young people.
Training #3: What is Heroism?
Summary: The essential questions that Youth-Fellows will be investigating as citizen journalists are, “Who are every-day (s)heroes in the segregated contexts we are exploring? What infrastructures need to exist to create, evolve, foster, and sustain cultures of heroism?” Youth-Fellows learned about the heroism framework to better understand the essential questions that they will be investigating. They analyzed concepts such as the Bystander Effect and the diffusion of responsibility in relation to their own lives and also in relation to the communities from whom they will be learning.