"To inspire them to realize more and more of their capacities for living meaningful lives. Because there certainly is meaning to life."
-John Coltrane on Uplifting Others

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Story Worth Telling

Recently, I began teaching English online to students in Korea and Japan, and I must say, The job is Boss! Last night between sessions, I talked with another employee, Danny, who told me a miraculous story of a Chinese student he tutors in the Salt Lake area. Granted, I do not know all the details (neither did Danny), but the idea behind the story is powerful. Notice I said idea, not moral.
Harrison is an abnormal student for the private school he attends. He is a wizard with chemistry and physics; he builds websites and creates animations from scratch. However, he struggles with history and English, because Harrison is an abnormal student. He is a refugee (for lack of a better word) from China. In authoritarian China, Harrison is a troublemaker in the works. In his 15 years, he has questioned, and his mother, fearing for him, remembered an old friend, a Scottish woman she had met who had moved to the Salt Lake area. Harrison's mother contacted her old friend, and together, they formulated a plan. Harrison would become an exchange student and come live with the family friend. Here, he could escape the pressures of Chinese rule and also receive a better education.
Which brings us to now. Harrison is here. He is studying. He struggles with the language, but as Danny told me last night, he is opening up. I can feign imagine what could have happened to him if Harrison stayed in China. I told Danny about my final project for Digital Civilization, and asked myself how Harrison's story fits into our class goals. I suppose Digital Media paved a way for Harrison to connect with Danny; they share a love of video games. The impetus behind the move comes from a mother who reacquainted herself with an old friend; she must have used e-mail or Skype to reconnect.
Now the family friend is trying to get the capital for an exchange student program, which will help bring teenagers from troubled parts of Asia to the United States. That way, they can escape government oppression, receive a better education, and also introduce a higher level of digital literacy. Students like Harrison and the Tibetan exiles that Kristen knows have a higher level of digital consumption than American students. The cross cultural perspective works with my final project: seeing how digital literacy works within other "developing" countries and their education systems. However, Harrison's story works within microfinancing as well. What could happen if that group got a hold of this Scottish woman's company, and gave out micro loans to bring students over here. What do you think? Is there a link, or am I looking for the trees in the forest?

1 comment:

  1. That would be an interesting project - are you saying that there is more digital literacy in other cultures?