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To create wiser adults, add empathy to the school curriculum.
- Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
- Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
- Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
1. Shine a light on world issues<p>One photo essay or short documentary film can deepen our understanding of the world's cultures and places. Photographer Bear Guerra <a href="https://www.globalonenessproject.org/library/webinar/discussion-photographer-roberto-bear-guerra" target="_blank">describes</a> how he documents (in his photo essay "La Carretera: Life and Change Along Peru's Interoceanic Highway") underrepresented populations in society, including places that are remote, "giving voices to the voiceless." In <a href="https://www.globalonenessproject.org/library/films/lost-world" target="_blank"><em>Lost World</em>,</a> filmmaker Kalyanee Mam documents one woman's relationship to her home in Cambodia, the impact of the sand dredging on the mangroves, the lives of the people who live in the forests, and surrounding ecosystem. Putting these places and people on the map through emotional storytelling is essential in developing understanding and care for our world.</p>
2. Challenge core beliefs<p>What might it be like to be forced to leave your home country and quickly adapt to learn a new language, a new culture, and a new place? This question is explored in the short film <a href="https://www.globalonenessproject.org/library/films/welcome-canada" target="_blank"><em>Welcome to Canada</em></a><em>, </em>which documents the story of Mohammed Alsaleh, a young refugee who fled violence and imprisonment by the Assad regime during Syria's Civil War. An individual's story, told visually through a film, can help illuminate a larger issue, like war, by making it more accessible. Educators use this film with students to challenge the misconceptions and stereotypes about Syrian refugees. </p>
3. Promote responsibility<p>Rabbi Dr. Ariel Burger, a former apprentice to Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, <a href="https://www.globalonenessproject.org/library/articles/learning-and-teaching-heart-troubled-times#" target="_blank">explains in his essay</a> that "The current moment calls for moral ferocity." How can we listen, be open, and teach and learn with an open heart? Wiesel wrote, "Whatever you learn, remember: the learning must make you more, not less, human." </p>
4. Evoke memories<p>Identity, family, and cultural heritage can encourage us to reflect on powerful memories. The short film <a href="https://www.globalonenessproject.org/library/films/maries-dictionary" target="_blank"><em>Marie's Dictionary</em></a> tells the story of a Native American woman who is the last fluent speaker of Wukchumni and her work to document the language through creating a dictionary. How does the language(s) you speak reveal characteristics of your culture? </p>
5. Provoke action<p><a href="https://www.globalonenessproject.org/library/films/earthrise" target="_blank"><em>Earthrise</em></a> tells the story of the Earthrise photograph and how it provides a <a href="https://www.globalonenessproject.org/en/e/11856/get/earthrise-discussion-guide.pdf" target="_blank">context</a> for what it means to be a global citizen. The Earthrise photograph led to the creation of the environmental movement and the first Earth Day fifty years ago. Inspired by the story's message, students are challenged to enter a photography contest <a href="https://www.globalonenessproject.org/student-projects/student-photo-contest" target="_blank">Document Your Place on the Planet</a> and document their relationship to the living world at this critical moment in history.</p>
6. Provide new perspectives<p>When our perspectives shift or change, we recognize the power it had all along—to shape, define, and even to limit our experience. Native American photographer Camille Seaman challenges us with her photo essay <a href="https://www.globalonenessproject.org/library/photo-essays/melting-away" target="_blank">"We Are Still Here"</a> to see Native Americans differently. She writes, "I was troubled when the textbooks we read spoke about Natives in the past tense—always implying that we no longer existed. We are still here."</p>
We wouldn't want to live without it, so how can we create art that's durable?
- You cannot kill the arts. This is particularly true when you talk about poetry, which does well in a world of social media as its easy to digest in its short form.
- Measuring success in art can be tricky, though. Impact and influence can be felt immediately, so how does art find that everlasting durability?
- Philanthropy can encourage and enable art, and as a result, potentially lengthen its lifespan. If we can find ways to measure art in its own terms, we can effectively give a platform to new voices who complete the cultural picture.