12 Lessons After 12 Years 

A few weeks ago I completed my 12th year at Global Kids, the majority as the Director of our Online Leadership Program. I recently announced that at the end of the month I will be leaving, to take on a new position at the American Museum of Natural History. My time at GK has been a continuing education program beyond my wildest dreams. As I prepare for the upcoming transition, I wondered if I could take this opportunity to see if I could summarize my key take-aways. What I came up with are lessons I am sure to carry with me but, more importantly, speaks to the importance for this work to continue at Global Kids.

1. Youth Care. Youth care about their lives, the worlds around them, and what they can do to better both. Some youth I met knew it. Others had forgotten. But in my 12 years at GK I have never met a youth who lacked the capacity for passionate engagement, given the proper context and support. I learned none should underestimate youth from low performing or at risk communities.


Youth Virtual Video On Rio+20  

In just two weeks' time, Global Kids Youth Leaders created a machinima film about the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which took place in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.  Youth were part of our Virtual Video Project (VVP) and learned skills in researching, script writing, storyboarding, voice acting, filming, and virtual world effects. 


In partnership with the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), youth were able to premiere the film to a group of teens from BPL in a fantastic end-of-program presentation.  Their hope is that through the film, more youth will learn about the global effects of climate change and be encouraged to take action.  Check our the final video below! 



Read more posts about VVP here.

Collaborating with GK DML Summer Fellow 

During this summer’s Virtual Video Project (VVP), I had the chance to co-facilitate the program with a Global Kids Digital Media and Learning Summer Fellow funded by the National Summer Learning Association. The Fellow helped us run VVP, an intensive two week program that supported GK Youth Leaders to address global and social issues through digital media production. In the end, youth made a film about global health effects due to climate change, as a continuation of GK’s involvement in the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.


The Fellow collaborated with us to plan the curriculum and connect it to Common Core Standards, co-facilitated all of the sessions, actively blogged (here and here), and also participated in post-program debriefing sessions and presentations. Walleska, a full-time Global History and Special Education teacher, was chosen as the Fellow to work with GK. Both her background working with underserved youth and her experience traveling abroad as a Fulbright volunteer, made her a great fit.


VVP Wrap-Up on Badges 

Last week, our first group of GK Youth leaders earned badges that we’ve been developing over the past few months.  It was exciting to come out of the development phase and actually see our youth beta test GK’s BadgeStack page.  These youth were part of a 2-week intensive summer program called the Virtual Video Project (VVP), where they made a short machinima film about global health effects due to climate change.


VVP and the Common Core Standards 



The Virtual Video Project has come to an end and I am so proud of the work we have accomplished. I would like to extend well-deserved congratulations to the youth and facilitators involved in this extraordinary summer learning program.


Throughout the program, we focused on skills that are transferrable to youth’s future career aspirations. These skills include public speaking, collaborating with peers to achieve a common goal, and supporting arguments and opinions with reputable sources. In addition, we assisted youth in working in creative capacities, such as using their imaginations to create an original storyline and using Second Life and digital media to bring this story to life.


In an effort to process through the work we have done, we asked youth guiding questions about their experiences with VVP. I would like to share of few of these responses:



“My participation in VVP has helped improved my research skills, my confidence and my global awareness. These skills will help me with my future goals by researching I can learn more about my options, the confidence will help me become more assertive and reach for want I want to achieve in life.” – Keisha


Reflection on VVP! 


On day one the goals I wrote down I want to become a travel doctor. Since then my participation in VVP has helped improved my research skills, my confidence and my global awareness. These skills will help me with my future goals. By researching I can learn more about my options, the confidence will help me become more assertive and reach for want I want to achieve in life. 

The biggest thing I could take away from my participation in VVP is the experiences and skills I gained in second life and learning about film making  as well as meeting these amazing people with there own uniqueness. I was extremely grateful to have worked with Russell and the GK staff (Daria, Joliz, Devon). 
I want people to gain a better understanding of what is happening around them and around the world because of climate change. This will help them to be more prepared and cautious about the climate and take better steps to protect themselves.

Reflecting on VVP! 


My goal later on in life is to become a pastry chef and I can use the computer to design cakes to make my clients have an idea of what the cake is going to look like instead of drawing out the whole cake. Saves time :)!

The biggest take away from my participation in VVP is using Second Life and learning how to direct a movie by using avatar characters.
I want people to learn that every place in the world has its issues and we as people need to take part in trying to make it a better place for younger generations.


VVP Reflection! 


My participation in VVP taught me some skills that will help me towards my goal of being in the medical field as either a nurse or physician assistant. Skills such as working as a group and also that everyone had to do the job as they are told. In the profession I want to pursue everyone has a responsibility and people rely on the job they do, and if they make a mistake everyone is affected. Since I want to be in the medical field a mistake can cost someone their life.


The biggest thing that I can take with me from VVP would be the information that I learned about the health effects that climate change has on people, because it effects everyone in our world. Such people dying from starvation in Africa, this caused by climate change, or people being killed from extreme weather conditions in India, and here in the United States we are having extreme heat waves. These conditions affect everyone.  


I want people to learn from the VVP video that, even if promises are not kept by world leaders, we have to take action into our own hands and make sure that changes do happen. 

VVP Reflection! 


VVP didn't teach me anything on skills toward my goals because I actually would like to be a school safety agent. My steps towards being a school safety agent is taking classes and the test to actually be in the SSD ( School Safety Division ). When I do school safety for a while i'm also going to take college classes for corrections because in order to do corrections you must have 60 college credits. And you can transfer from school safety to corrections. School safety and corrections has a good salary. Something I did learn in VVP is being in a second life. Second life is a virtual world where you can basically do anything you want. Being on second life is kind of interesting because that's something I never done before. In second life they have avatars that you control in the virtual world. Like the avatars we are using in our 3min clip. The message we want to send in our 3min movie clip is about climate change and how climate change is actually really affecting people in other countries. And I want people to learn from this clip that we need to make a difference. 

VVP Reflection 


Now that we have completed our VVP assignment, I believe that I gained more skills than I thought I would have on day 1. I learned a lot about research, the Second Life program, and many things that go into film making. The biggest thing I took away from participating in VVP was knowing that technology can be used to bring awareness to a topic. With film, we didn't just lecture the audience with tons of information. Instead we created a story and used technology to its full potential to bring awareness to climate change. As a result of watching the film, I would like the viewers to learn that climate change is something real and it affects thousands, if not more people. I would also like the viewers to realize that youth made this film. We came up with the topic, we created the script, and this shows that youth can be a part of making changes in our world.