The Stories That Change Us: Pre-Workshop Assignment

Everyone who completes an exchange program tells us that it changed them. They tell us that they learned new skills, new ways of looking at the world.  But as digital storytellers, we want to hear (and see) the details.  We want you to tell us a story.

Assignment (Saturday, September 15) :

  1. Write one paragraph (5-8 sentences) describing a specific experience from your exchange year that taught you something or changed the way you thought about the world.  How did this experience impact your life when you returned home? *Use specific details to tell your story.
  2. Post your paragraph on the YES Digital Storytelling 2018 Facebook group.
  3. Include 3-5 photos from your exchange year and/or at home that help tell your story.

*Here are a couple of examples of “change stories” from YES alumni.

  1. Shine Santos (Philippines): Michigan, U.S. 2007-08

Prior to my exchange year, I never played any sports or even exercised. Ever. I was convinced that I was not physically fit and did not have the skills to compete in any sports. I always chose to be the scorekeeper in physical education class. However, this all changed during my exchange year in Michigan when I joined the JV soccer team in order to make friends. During practices, I learned that I am capable of running long distances, fast, and that I could think quickly on my feet and help my team make goals. Since then my life has never been the same, When I went back to the Philippines, I started living an active lifestyle, finished two full marathons, and served as the team captain of my university’s touch football team. I even represented the Philippines in the 2015 Touch Football World Cup in Australia. I can say that joining the soccer team on my exchange year definitely changed my life!


2. Elly Schaefer (United States): Ghana 2015-16

When I think of what I learned during my exchange year, I think mostly about my Ghanaian host mom. She truly opened her heart and home and made a big effort to spend time with me. One of my favorite memories is sitting in her living room while she told me stories about how she and my host dad met and fell in love.  My bold, talkative host mom was suddenly bashful and giggly as showed showed me her wedding photos and shared her hopes and dreams. I was struck with how willing she was to be open and welcome me into her life. I rarely had an interaction with my mom where I didn’t learn something new, and this day was no exception. Now that I am back in the U.S. with my birth family, I feel her influence in my daily life and all of my relationships. I try to be more open and welcoming, to share my true self with other people in a way I couldn’t do before.

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