Connect, dispel and build.
From these three words, Sanni Crespina-Flores, a resident artist with the Village Arts and Community College of Philadelphia, took the first steps in creating a project in Philadelphia and New York which aims to explore, examine and critique the media and the social objectification of youth and its consequences at both the individual and the communitary level. Using technology and art vehicles for this work, students could make use of their smartphones, computers and tablets to develop new skills, while agencing the digital citizens.
“The development of meaningful exchanges and the creation of art that actively advocates for youth is based on the foundation of partnerships with like minded groups. Our partners are dedicated to building programs that will provide a front row seat to the world and provide the tools for youth to participate in a world only they could envision.” Sannii Crespina – Flores
Do Remember Me works with young people on multiple levels, working both academically and humanely, in and out of the room. Some examples are the International Youth Day, the #MentalHealthMatters project for the United Nations and their collaborations with several people and organisations such as Dj Lean Wit It, Be Girl World and Public Art Nigeria.
This innovative project is the creation of a series of workshops, which use art as a social advocacy tool to create a voice of activism for youth in Philadelphia, Tanzania, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Paris and Kazakhstan. Utilizing technology to connect youth via Skype, invoking positive dialogue between the youth to dispel myths about hopelessness, media stereotypes and cultural differences.
They managed to bring young people from various parts of the world together, finding common ground and learning from their differences. In my opinion, it is knowledge that the students are going to keep with them for the rest of their lives. After the members experienced new cultures and found each other as a source of inspiration and support, the workshop became a forum for activism and advocacy regarding current issues such as peer violence, absence of leaders and heroes and many other pressing local and global issues.
Having the pleasure to talk to some of the new students, here are some excerpts from the interview. Reading them, I really could see firsthand the impact Do Remember Me is having on their lives.
“The biggest lesson I learned from a Skype meeting is that talking to people from other places helps you learn more about the world.” Zaire Guenther, 15, Philadelphia.
“I wanted to join the project because it felt important to me to learn about other people from different countries, and I wanted to learn how to operate a camera professionally.” Bashir, 15, Philadelphia.
“ I believe this project is very essential to my life, because it gives me an extra skill that I can pursue as an occupation.” Bashir, 15, Philadelphia.
Even though we live in a globalized world, we often witness acts of racism, homophobia and the imposition of stereotypes resulting from an ignorant and uninformed society. The importance of initiatives working with young people, who sometimes are not encouraged to seek new ways of learning, is undeniable.
Therefore, by expanding their horizons, worldviews, breaking old habits and stereotypes, we pave the way for a new generation that can be more united and contribute to the creation of a world where everyone understands each other and lives more humanely.
I hope this initiative inspires other people to contribute to the formation of young people, starting with a small community, because change can be made anywhere in the world. Whatever its tools, the important thing is the desire and passion to uplift each other.
To know more:
“The World Is as Big or as Small as You Make It” is a documentary made by the Sundance Insitute. It explores the differences and the similarities between youth from all around the globe, telling stories and doubts they have about living in another country and how the project is getting youth together. Check it out!