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Imagining America launches web series, ‘The New Activists: Students in the Community’
“The New Activists: Students in the Community” is Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life’s (IA’s) new web series of short videos profiling high school, undergraduate and graduate students who are tapping their creativity and knowledge to address pressing social issues in their community and among their peers. Produced with the Orange Television Network (OTN), the stories explore the reciprocal value of having students and community members collaborate on solving problems.
“The idea is to elevate the first-voice stories of students – illustrating what they find motivating, challenging and inspiring about publicly engaged scholarship,” says Jamie Haft, IA’s communications manager and the series’ producer. “These students are ‘new’ activists not only because they’re young, but because they’re finding new solutions for addressing significant issues.”
The first story features Danielle Preiss, a dual master’s student studying at State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and Syracuse University (in the Newhouse School’s Magazine, Newspaper, and Online Journalism program). After conducting research in Nepal on a Fulbright grant, learning Nepali language, and becoming interested in agriculture, Preiss returned to her hometown of Rochester, N.Y. and, with nonprofit Foodlink, she began collaborating with newly arrived Bhutanese-Nepali refugees on a community garden that engages issues of the environment, migration and urban renewal.
“When I lived in Nepal, I received a lot of kindness and generosity from the people that I interacted with,” says Preiss. “So, when this Nepali population started coming to my hometown, it was really exciting for me to have an opportunity to be on the other side of that.”
During the 2012-13 school year, as many as five short videos will be created and shared. The students highlighted in this inaugural round were identified through a contest in which they submitted their personal stories about civic engagement for the chance to turn their story into a video. The selection team looked for stories that best exemplified reciprocal collaboration among campus and community stakeholders and showed how the student’s education informs his or her engagement in community. The series builds on the momentum of the April 18 event “White House Young America Series: Live from Syracuse University.”
“I am so in awe of what these young adults are doing with their lives.” says Andy Robinson, OTN’s general manager and an adjunct instructor in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. “It’s an honor and privilege to work with these students and tell their stories. They inspire me.”
The video series will be used to support and further develop a national movement of civically engaged students, in conjunction with IA’s other student programs like the national Publicly Active Graduate Education (PAGE) program and Central New York PAGE chapter.