In partnership with the PLF, a group of seven students from the Eugene Lang College at the New School in NYC spent five weeks conducting various innovative projects at PLF sponsored schools. Below is a write up from a media lab project, carried out by Jika Gonzalez.
This summer I had the chance to observe and work along side some very savvy media students from Chey School in Siem Reap province. The seven participants from Chey have been learning media skills with PLF for many months now. My interaction with these kids involved talking about their future projects, going over photography, videography and interview skills. I only worked with the group of seven young students for a few days but it was great to see how they are using newly attained media skills to express themselves and tell an audience how they see the world.
This media lab is incredibly important to these kids, whether they end up working within the media industry or not, the skills they are gaining are a great spin on the education they have so far received. Using cameras and microphones to tell stories is a chance to express their views and opinions in a new and fun way. I can only wish someone had taught me about these different mediums when I was their age. It is important for young Cambodians to start telling their own stories and not have foreigners attempt to do this for them. Workshops of this nature open up a world of possibilities for these students.
One thing that I learned at PLF is that it’s important to listen, to really hear what the students want to do, and ask the students questions that allow the student to discover things for themselves. I would advise someone interested in sharing media skills with these students, to come with an open mind and to detach themselves from any strict or confining ideas. Come with goals or projects in mind, but let these projects take a life of their own once they are in the hands of the students. Think about what you would have liked to learn about media at that age and try to find creative ways to teach them. Volunteers should come with enough time to see media projects through and to build relationships with the students.
I think a month should be the minimum time commitment to volunteer for the media lab. Prospective volunteers should also take a look at the work the students have already produced and get an idea of what level the students are at.
by Jika Gonzalez