IDSP 2016 Fellowship Showcase

InterculturalDIGITAL STORYTELLINGProjectThe art of story has been around for centuries because it’s a fundamental way we make meaning as humans. It’s the way we reflect, share, and learn both individually and collectively. Digital tools have made this process easier and more accessible, adding dimensions to the storytelling process and avenues through which to share locally and globally.

The six #IDSP16 Fellows invite you to share in their experiences around the world through a screening of their digital stories in a community showcase on May 4th, 2016 from 6-8pm at the DLC Design Space. This interactive evening will offer a glimpse into storytelling and the fellowship process where reflection, immersion, inductive research, peer mentorship and digital media merge into story. Come celebrate with us, experience some amazing stories, and interact with your peers. Light snacks will be served.

The Intercultur1al Digital Storytelling Project, also known as #IDSP, was designed for students at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS) involved in immersive learning activities affiliated with their academic experiences. The IDSP Fellowship experience was designed to around 5 key competencies: immersive learning, inductive research, peer mentorship, reflection, and digital media.  The year-long timeline supports fellows in by guiding them through the development of these skills.


IDSP Update: South Africa

By Taylor Robb-McCord; IEP student and IDSP16 fellow

For as long as I can remember, my dad has been the one herding our family into the car and insisting on getting to the airport at least two hours before any flight. If you’re flying out of a major airport, you might end up at the airport three or four hours before your flight. He takes no risks.

I know he’s right, but for years I have struggled getting to the airport on time. If you know me, you will know that I struggle getting anywhere on time. After numerous missed flights (and even showing up at the wrong airport to check-in), I have tried my best to be on time for flights, mainly out of the sheer fear of having to call my dad and tell him, once again, I missed my flight.

I was flying from Zambia back to my parent’s house in South Africa, and taking my dad’s advice, I was not going to be late and I did my math numerous times.  My flight was at 6:30pm. Okay, two hours early means arrive at 4:30pm. An hour to the airport to ensure I’m not late from traffic means I leave at 3:30pm. Perfect. Foolproof.

I set off that afternoon with my friend Valerie for a leisurely afternoon before heading to the airport.  In typical Taylor style, my trip to the airport unfolded like this:

12:00 – Pedicures and mango smoothies! Taylor convinces Valerie to drive 45 minutes in the opposite direction of the airport for lunch.

1:30 – We arrive at the restaurant and settle in for lunch.

3:15 – Still at lunch. We both start thinking we should start making our way to the airport.

3:20 – Taylor MUST have dessert and coffee. So we order brownies, apple pie and cappuccinos.

3:50 – Start making our way to the car through the gift shop. Taylor MUST buy gifts.

4:15 – We get in the car. GPS estimates it’s a 30-minute drive to the airport and we start to follow the blue tracFullSizeRender-1k.

4:30 – We hit a dead end. Fudge buckets. Turn around.

4:40 – Back on the main road.

4:50 – Make a few turns and the paved road turns to dirt. The GPS says we are correct, so we carry on.

5:15 – The dirt road turns into a narrow road and eventually the car can’t fit. Valerie performs the most amazing reverse driving and backs up a ¼ mile of narrow road, dodging people, bricks, chickens, and wire fences.

5:20 – Back on the “main” dirt road. Phew.  Assure myself that arriving at the airport before 5:45pm for an international flight will be fine.

FullSizeRender-45:30 – Valerie screams “CHICKEN!” and I instantly think we will have to pay someone for driving over their chicken. But then I see ahead of us, a giant chicken statue in the middle of a roundabout. The last landmark before the airport.

5:45 – We pull up to the airport, say our goodbyes and I speed walk (really speed walk) to the ticketing agent.

6:00 – I make it through security and to my gate. Only slightly concerned that the security agent didn’t once look at the x-ray machine screen and maintained eye contact with me the entire time. What could I have smuggled in my luggage?

2016 resolution – just be on time and no, you do not need dessert and coffee. I take that back, yes you do. Always.

IDSP Update: Salinas

By Anita Joshi; MPA student and IDSP16 fellow

Eating Locally, Thinking Globally

The month of January has been full of surprises of all types. I have been working with the organic farmers in Salinas to try and build more sustainability into the local food systems that most of us often take for granted. The farmers of course, being on the front lines, are fighting the battle from dawn till dusk. I call it a battle because that’s my impression of it at times, given how the many internal and external variables in small-holder farming function. Since I’ve started working with the farmers and produce distributers, I’ve learned that our food systems have become more complicated and less transparent over the past few generations. My grandparents were consumers in a totally different system than what it is now.

I started working with these farmers after they had gone through the farm worker-to-farmer program at the Agricultural and Land-Based Training Association. My idea was to develop a plan to help connect people that produce food with the people that consume the food. This was an alternative to the corporate tyranny that most farmers have to deal with because our food system has evolved to prioritize convenience for the consumer instead of social justice within the system. So I started working to create a produce co-op and identify ways to help connect the farmers to new market opportunities. My vision was that this would benefit everyone, from improving farmers’ access to markets to giving consumers access to the freshest, vine-ripened (as opposed to shelf-ripened) produce. One farmer, Mr. Gallardo, originally from Oaxaca, grew strawberries whose intense flavors reminded me of the old Skittles commercial; “Taste the rainbow!” (because I’m pretty sure rainbows taste like the sweetest organic produce known to man.) With this level of quality, one would imagine the price would be sky-high. The reality was at the season’s peak they sold for barely $1 per pound. Not nearly enough to even pay the workers or pay for the land, water, and other inputs.

After many conversations and “A-ha!” moments, I learned that one can never underestimate how strong of a pull convenience has for consumers. This is understandable; who doesn’t like convenience? But it seemed to me that even consumers who wanted out of this system didn’t have a lot of choices, or even the awareness of- or connections with- the local food producers. Yet, this was the modern food chain, and I was trying to dismantle it one organic tomato at a time. The corporate super markets have held on to the status quo with a clenched fist. Even when the system makes no sense to anyone.

A couple months after I first became acquainted with the farmers, I realized the upshot of all that I had been doing and trying to figure out. I had had a frustrating past few weeks with my consumer networks falling apart and realizing no amount of social media posting would change corporate hegemony, I vented to myself: “People! You’re rejecting the sweetest Salinas Valley Sun-riped rainbow heirlooms?! Why don’t you all just go to SaveMart and buy cardboard-flavored tomatoes!” Then one day, while walking downtown, someone I know on the street yells “Hey Anita! You got any organic tomatoes yet?” Surprised, I inwardly jump a little jump-for-joy at the sound of someone asking me about organic produce. “Soon!” I say. “I hear February or March, when the rain lets up maybe.” And I relish in the notion of someone seriously thinking locally and seasonally, instead of only thinking about Trader Joes. Maybe the beginning of a ripple effect. Or not. It was just one person. But that’s where it all starts.

IDSP Update: Monterey

By Lizzie Falconer; MPA student and IDSP16 fellow

It was 10 am and a small group of people had gathered outside Holland center. A motley crew: some in sweatpants and sneakers, others in suits and shined black shoes. Some wore knitted hats, others wore hijab. One woman was heavily pregnant, and another was pushing a baby stroller.  Without context it would have been impossible to know who these people were and what they had in common. But it was us, the DPMI Monterey class of 2016, preparing for our group excursion to Point Lobos. We were excited, all of us had been cooped up in Casa Fuente 434 from 9-5:30 every day, learning and practicing development tools in small groups. The days were long and the work left my brain feeling gelatinous. I was excited for the excuse to be outside.

For many people, J-term meant traveling: airports, plane tickets, backpacks full of dry fit clothing. My fellow #IDSPers were headed all over the world. I felt a twinge of jealousy. I love to travel as much as the next MIIS student.  But for me, my J-term plans were a little closer to home. Specifically, the greater Monterey County.

I stayed in Monterey for J-term because my first semester at MIIS almost killed me. I am not saying that in the hyperbolic, “I took 18 credits, never slept and lived off of espresso shots” kind of way. I actually did nearly die, in the form of water on the 101 that caused my car to hydroplane and flip into a ditch at sixty miles an hour. Three weeks later, I fell off my bike and tore ligaments in my shoulder. To quote the EMT who rushed over to render aid: “Maybe you should try walking.”  Staying in Monterey for J-term was my way to heal. Give myself a chance to relax and recuperate. I would eschew the cross cultural learning opportunities for a later date, I thought to myself, when I felt healthier.

DPMI students at Point Lobos
DPMI students at Point Lobos

Once we were all gathered in front of Holland, we divided up among cars and drove to Point Lobos. The clouds hung low and heavy along the shoreline. Our group met inside the park, and then split up to hike different paths down to the shore. Everyone bounced around with excitement, chatting and joking, in five different languages.

The ocean was beautiful, the deep gray-blue it turns when a storm is coming. Pelicans soared above us, pausing midflight to dive bomb the waves. We stopped and took photos. Then ran to the next beautiful spot to take more photos. This was my fourth trip to Point Lobos, but being surrounded by so many people who were seeing it for the first time heightened my excitement.  I ran around like a little kid, pointing out the marine life and plants to my fellow participants.  Watching the waves, spending time with new friends, laughing at sea animals, this was the healing I needed.

Point Lobos
Point Lobos

Spoiler alert: You don’t need to leave the country to get an immersive learning experience. In fifteen days of DPMI, I talked with colleagues from Liberia, Pakistan, India, Afghanistan, Sudan, Ethiopia and Mexico. We shared meals and drinks and stories. I watched our group, once thirty-six individuals, come together to form our own community and culture. We had shared jokes, experience and a common vernacular.  We hiked together, we laughed together, and we worked through arduous group projects together.

At the end of the three weeks I walked out of our classroom, Casa Fuente 434, like a weary traveler. Full of new ideas, fresh perspectives, and an appreciation for all of my colleagues who shared their stories with me.

Newspaper Blackout Event!

The last two weeks of the semester are upon us, and stress levels are at an all-time high, so IDSP is coming to you! Next Tuesday, December 8th we’ll be in the library from 12pm-1pm inviting studiers to take a 15 minute break, eat a cookie, and create a newspaper blackout story. It’s kind of like magnetic poetry; you get a newspaper article and a black sharpie marker, and black out everything but the words you want to keep to create a story.

We’re going to have newspapers in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, German, French, and English! (We’re working on getting some Spanish language resources, as well!)

Study in the library next week during dead hours, and stop by and create a story. See you there!


#IDSP16 Fellowship Launches with First Meeting

#IDSP16Last Tuesday, the new cohort of seven #IDSP16 fellows got together for the first time. They shared stories about the origin of their names, and then used the Narrative4 frame work to introduce each other using the first person. Fellows then went on partner walks in dark Monterey (around 7pm – thanks, Day Light Savings Time!). When they came back they were asked to represent their experience using markers, post-its, paper, scissors, legos, or anything else they could find in the DLC’s Design Sp@ce. (Check out the photo collage for a glimpse into their creations.)

We’re really excited to unveil this year’s group who were selected from more than 20 applicants! #IDSP16 fellows will be traveling to Brazil, Nepal, South Africa, Mexico, Chile, Madrid, Panama, and lovely Monterey, California over J-term.  Stay tuned to the blog for updates from the field, and what stories begin to emerge from fellows’ time around the world. For now, check out the profiles of the seven new fellows!

Your life in six words

Think you can tell the story of your life in just six words?

Does this sound like a ridiculous question? It turns out it’s a challenge writers and us common folk have been accepting for years. Earnest Hemingway’s six word memoir? It’s rumored he wrote: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Smith, an online magazine compiled six word memoirs from their readers, authors, artists and everyone in between. From it came a book, featured on NPR, called Not Quite What I Was Planning. Some of our favorites from the book:

Painful nerd kid, happy nerd adult.
        – Linda Williamson
Extremely responsible, secretly longed for spontaneity.
        – Sabra Jennings
Watching quietly from every door frame.
        – Nicole Resseguie

This is an exercise we do with our Digital Storytelling Fellows to introduce the concept of new ways of storytelling; last Spring we had everyone who attended our #IDSP showcase write their own. Check out our instagram (@IDSPmiis) for some of our six word memoirs.

Katie’s six word memoir. (One of many.)
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