As students in "International Understanding in a Time of COVID-19" processed their experiences writing letters and sharing conversations with peers in Uganda, they created podcasts, art, writing, and songs to express their thoughts, feelings, and discoveries.

Miska, a 10th grader from Nikolai who lives in Anchorage, created a podcast, inspired by a shared injustice he saw in both Uganda and the US. One of the Ugandan participants, Fred, had recently been beaten by police in a market, even though he was buying food within curfew hours. Miska explored and built on that story with Fred's permission.

Kim, a student in Kodiak who loves crafting and was inspired by her new Ugandan friends' accounts of beading and sewing, did extensive research before creating this art via Adobe. You can see her final piece and her process below

Emma, a student artist from Denali Park, shared the following words and created the following art that included all the participants from Alaska and Uganda.

"I’m amazed how in Uganda people are using this time to benefit themselves. Candiru Recho shared that she has started learning to tailor her own clothing, and Amanziru Palm Sunday has spent her time making paper beads and necklaces. Sharing our experiences during the quarantine also highlighted some differences in our lives. With schools shut down due to COVID-19, in Uganda lessons are being broadcasted to students over the radio. This not only lets students continue learning from home, but gives children who cannot afford school fees the opportunity to take classes that they would otherwise not be able to access. In Uganda the quarantine comes with a strict curfew enforced by police officers, and there isn't uproar or backlash like there is in the U.S. if a police officer uses force against a civilian. There is no media coverage and no protests like what we have recently been seeing across the United States. One of the Ugandan students shared that he had been beaten by police the previous day for being out too early in the morning. All of us from both locations had to try to see the story from the other's perspective. I have learned a lot so far from this project, and I hope to get to learn even more about peers across the world. I also hope that as my Ugandan Penpal Semi wrote, 'that everything will get on and stand well.'"

Josephine (from Chefornak) and Recho (from Arua) were penpals through See Stories' International Understanding in a Time of Covid Virtual Exchange. They discovered they both loved crafting and sewing, and they were both struggling during COVID-19 since they were newly working in Early Childhood Education.

Josephine wrote the following about her experience:

Ron, a See Stories' student through our International Understanding: Culture and Connection in a Time of COVID-19, was inspired after writing letters back and forth with his penpal, Fred, and holding weekly conversations with peers in Northern Uganda. In Ron's words: "We are facing lockdowns, quarantine orders, cancelations, postponements, and death. On the brighter side, my See Stories virtual exchange with youth in Uganda has made me realize that we should never let the virus stop our motivation or desire to connect. As my penpal Fred composed that made me feel special, 'I will finish my school and buy myself a cellphone so that we can chat on Facebook.' My experience in this workshop is indescribable. I have felt delighted getting to know peers from Alaska and especially peers from Uganda." Mid-way through the class he spontaneously wrote a poem, with seven stanzas, and seven syllables per line. Denise, Ron's classmate, put his poem to music, singing both alto and soprano. You can listen below.

A big thank you to the Alaska Community Foundation for generously supporting this project through the Alaska International Understanding Grant.


See Stories is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that provides free youth film workshops and creates films that foster an inclusive community story. 

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