In 2008, I teamed up with Barbara Cervone from U.S. based-nonprofit What Kids Can Do, Inc. and Adobe Youth Voices to create Beijing Youth Voices, a blog created by six students in Beijing, China.
China's education system is evolving as it tries to incorporate new learning practices. We wanted to experiment with creative writing in a non-school setting. We had youth from all over Beijing apply and in the end we awarded six students funding for college and media training classes.
We had an amazing instructor in Beijing, Gloria Xu of Chinapax, workng with the youth. They met for six months and created weekly blog posts on different topics about how Beijing was changing. The topics that the youth wrote about ranged from pre-Olympic to post-Olympic changes, their grandparent's memories of the city, and their hopes and dreams.
“Hey! We are the six bloggers—Iris, Siqi, Steven, Linda, Kelan, and E-mail—of Adobe Youth Voice’s and What Kids Can Do’s Beijing Youth Voices! We are all high school students in Beijing, with a range of interests, talents, and personalities—like teenagers around the world. For the next six months, we will be posting bi-weekly blogs, giving you a peek into our lives and life in China.”
So began the first of many blog entries, filled with photographs and stories, from the six-member Beijing Youth Voices team. The group met on Saturdays at a centrally located tea-shop, where they reviewed each other’s work and then set out to explore with their cameras a new part of the city. The students posted their blogs in Chinese on baidu.com and in English on wordpress.com. With the 2008 Summer Olympics, the team trekked across Beijing to capture the Olympic spirit far from the famed “Bird’s Nest”—from “Smiling Beijing Welcomes You” banners to sidewalk health stations.
What Kids Can Do published a beautiful flip-book of stories of over 250 youth that included many of the stories from the Beijing Youth Voices blog.