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Student Filmmakers & the Recession: Telling the "We Story"

Storytelling is a collaborative, social learning practice that strengthens family and cultural ties while also providing a context for information to be carried forward to future generations.

These family stories and shared experiences (folklore, food traditions, and oral histories) are a mirror of where we have been and shape where we are going as families, society, and individuals.

In his book, The Art of Possibility, Benjamin Zander calls the invisible threads that hold us together "the WE story." As Zander explains:

"The WE story defines a human being in a specific way: It says we are central selves seeking to contribute, naturally engaged, forever in a dance with each other. It points to relationship rather than to individuals, to communication patterns, gestures, and movement...Like the particle-and-wave nature of light, the WE is both a living entity and a long line of development unfolding.

By telling the WE story, an individual becomes a conduit for this new inclusive entity, wearing its eyes and ears, feeling its heart, thinking its thoughts..."

In New York City five students participating in the youth programs at the Tribeca Film Institute have created short films showing how the recession has impacted their parents, friends and sharing how the recession has affected their own lives.

The recession has has affected all of these students in different ways. For some of these kids it means forgoing camp this summer and instead getting a job to help support the family. For others it means reconsider attending the prom and thinking hard about whether the experience is worth the expense.

And when it comes to college, the cost of application fees alone are forcing many students to cut colleges from their list and looking at working for a year or attending community college.

One of the students talks about the shift of attitudes when it comes to discussing money. Last year her friends would never admit that they couldn't afford to participate in an activity.

Now that more kids are opening up and sharing their own stories about the recession, they feel more comfortable opting out of activities and just stating up front that they can't afford to participate. Most importantly the conversations about money that were once avoided between parent and child are now open for discussion.

Filmmaking is a valuable learning technology and storytelling vehicle that allows students to combine their love of technology with storytelling to explore difficult subjects as well as provide avenues for them to share their own points of view.

Moreover, through the process of telling the "we story" they are able to amplify their voice within their respective communities and become "a conduit for this new inclusive entity, wearing its eyes and ears, feeling its heart, thinking its thoughts (Zander).

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