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Young Film Ambassadors

A collaborative film project that teaches technology and cooperation skills to Florida high school students and their peers abroad.

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Through Young Film Ambassadors, Blue Planet Writers' Room will connect groups of high school students in Florida, USA with groups of their peers in Glasgow, Scotland and Kampala, Uganda to learn filmmaking and technology skills so that they can create and share collaborative films about their homes and daily lives. Over the course of three school years, our teaching writers will work closely with the technology teacher at a community education center and film teachers at a high school for the arts, as well as with a film artist in Scotland and a teacher in Uganda in year 1 and with other countries in years 2 and 3, to implement three collaborative film projects that involve international collaborations between the various groups. The heart of the project will be its emphasis on the exchange of stories--the stories of the students involved, their daily lives, their heritages, their customs and traditions. The teachers and teaching writers/artists will work together to plan the arc of each project by meeting via Skype and email. They'll lead students through film- and writing-based activities that will enable them to learn about each other while teaching about themselves. Each year's workshops will culminate in one or more collaborative films that will be accessible to the public online for free. We believe that this kind of creative story exchange is one of the most effective ways for young people to learn about the wider world while teaching about their own corner of it. In a time when so many negative narratives exist, when so many groups are vilified and feared, and when so many nations seem determined to follow a path of isolationism and xenophobia, this project will enable its participants find the commonalities that exist alongside the differences inherent in cultures and nationalities, while learning valuable 21st century job skills. The project will thus build bridges of empathy and creativity between countries and cultures.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries in year 1 will be high school students in four local and international groups: In Palm Beach County, Florida, we will serve students in a community-based technology program for underserved youth and a film program at an arts high school whose admissions are lottery-based. We will connect these students with their peers in a community-based arts program for underserved youth in Glasgow, Scotland and a high school in Kampala, Uganda. In years two and three, we expect to connect our Florida groups (whose students will naturally change with each school year) with other groups in other countries, as well.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

The work we do at Blue Planet Writers' Room is always centered on story exchanges. Other good international student projects exist today, but our projects are unique in that they use the concept of story to bridge distances and cultural differences. Many negative narratives exist today about various nationalities and cultures--including Americans. We believe that by enabling young people to tell their own stories about what it means to be a member of their cultural or ethnic group, and to share these stories with their peers abroad, we can open a constructive dialogue and help to interrogate and subvert those negative narratives. Film, of course, is a very effective way to tell stories, and the tech skills necessary to write, produce, shoot, and edit films are important ones in the 21st century job market. The Young Film Ambassadors project will thus connect students across borders through a unique combination of creativity, international collaboration, and technology instruction.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

At Blue Planet, we use technology to connect groups of local students with groups of students in other countries to engage in story exchanges about their lives and cultures; teaching writers and teaching artists lead students in workshops where creative writing and the arts are used to establish common ground that lets students communicate with and learn about each other across cultural and geographic borders.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

In ten years of running Blue Planet Writers' Room, we have exchanged countless video clips that document daily life in the US and the many countries we partner with. In reviewing our body of work, we were struck with inspiration: what if our students could exchange not just informal clips but whole films that tell their stories of being American, or Ugandan, or Scottish? Using story exchange and technology skills, this project can take our mission to a new level of creativity and collaboration.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace is being impacted by the increasingly isolationist and xenophobic policies being enacted by governments in the West. Prosperity has been influenced by the digital divide between children from families of means, who learn about technology from an early age, and children from poorer families, who are deprived of opportunities to learn about technology and to have those skills to offer to future employers.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Blue Planet will coordinate the project and our teaching writers will work with students on the crafting of their film scripts. In e will partner with 3 other organizations to implement the project: The Center for Creative Education in West Palm Beach, Florida, whose technology teacher will instruct students in film-making skills and oversee the project; G-Star School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida, whose film teachers will take on the same duties; Platform Glasgow in Scotland, whose film artist/teaching artist will lead the project; and Kasubi Parents Secondary School in Kampala, Uganda, whose director of international collaboration will oversee the initiative. We have been connecting students across borders for the past 10 years in dozens of writing- and arts-based collaborations. Our teachers and their partners abroad plan via Skype and email and share student work and dialogue via Dropbox, Skype, and video. Examples are at

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

The School District of Palm Beach County boasts students from 197 countries and territories, speaking 145 languages. With so many ethnic and national backgrounds, these students are excellent candidates for our international collaborations, which use the arts and writing to establish common ground and to find the common humanity in young people from very different places and traditions.

Geographic Focus

Palm Beach County, Florida, USA; Glasgow, Scotland; Kampala, Uganda.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

36 months

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


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