CALEXICO — 4-H Club members attended the first in a series of workshops on using multi-media as tools for storytelling Saturday at Carmen Durazo Cultural Arts Center in Calexico.
4-H volunteer Linda Sanchez said the project was sponsored by the Vesper Society, a group that funds leadership projects throughout the world. They funded the Renaissance Journalism Center program based at San Francisco State University to launch the Imperial Valley Youth Voices Project in Imperial Valley, and students will be trained in using multimedia, rather than traditional newspapers and television, to portray stories, she said.
Angel Esparza of Mi Calexico is coordinating the training. Mi Calexico is a community platform consisting of a website, Facebook page and magazine with over 11,000 followers, according to its website.
“The first workshop focused on an overview of the different multimedia platforms such as photography, video, graphic design, and journalism to show kids, 15-18 years old, the principles of these platforms in order to empower them and give them a platform to share their stories relating to our region,” Esparza said.
At the end of the workshops, Esparza commented that, “We’re going have an event to showcase their work through printed photographs, or video short films; and we’re also going to create a newspaper to put that content and share it completely with the community. This is a one-day sample newspaper.”
He said the Imperial Valley Youth Voices Project is a collaboration with the Vesper Society, Renaissance Journalism and 4-H Clubs in Imperial Valley.
Jon Funabiki is executive director of Renaissance Journalism Center in San Francisco. “We’ve been helping the 4-H clubs start a program on storytelling in media with the idea that we could help young people in this area to learn media skills and learn ways to tell stories through their own own eyes,” Funabiki said.
“We want the young people to come up with ideas of their own, what they are interested in, and what they are concerned about,” said Funabiki. “One of our main ideas or concerns is that young people don’t get to have their own say. This would give the young people their chance to tell their stories.”
Esparza has recruited a number of his colleagues to teach the participants. In the coming months, Funabiki hopes to involve other people from the Imperial County, especially from the local media.
Cassidy Taylor was one of the participants at Saturday’s workshops, and sat on the front row. She said she will be a seventh grader at Barbara Worth Junior High in Brawley this coming school year. “I am here to learn more about journalism, photography, video, and graphics because I’ve been interested in that for a long time,” Taylor said.
Taylor said she likes writing fictional stories and taking photos of scenery, family vacations, and animals at the fair and animal shows. “I just find it very interesting and it would be a fun job to do.”
Another participant, Alex Moedano, graduated from Calexico High School in June. He has already started summer classes at Imperial Valley College and will eventually transfer to California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo in two years, he said, majoring in agriculture and minoring in photography.
“I am here to learn more about photography and learn a little bit about videography so I can be able to express my ideas to show other peoples’ lifestyles,” Moedano said.
Funabiki, a former foreign correspondent for the San Diego Union Tribune, said he was surprised that many of the workshop students, mostly women, were specifically interested in journalism because so many people think that journalism is dead.
“I don’t agree with that,” Funabiki said. “I work with journalists across the country —newspapers, television stations, radio stations, and websites. This is a really exciting time in journalism, because everyone is experimenting with new ways of telling stories. Very interesting.”
While traditional newspapers, television and radio stations are still important, they are now just one of many others who are covering the news and doing stories, according to Funabiki. “So, young people are the future. We want young people to know that there’s a future in journalism and storytelling; and they have the power and the tools to tell the stories,” he said.