Smiles of Angeles
By ARIJIT GOSWAMI
“Smiles of Angeles” is a project to narrate stories of solidarity, resilience and hope amidst the pause to life during the pandemic. The project aims to create excellent photo journalists out of the ordinary students of Los Angeles community. This will enable greater connect with their community, higher empathy with fellow beings and a better attainment of academic writing skills among students.
1. School-going students are often not so much connected to the realities of their communities, and ae distant from the hardships that the less-fortunate population suffer from. At the same time, the underprivileged community has its own stories of hardships and resilience that can be source of inspiration for school students and the community at large.
2. Unless the young people don’t connect with their community early on in life, they won’t be able to develop empathy for them. Moreover, there are also many examples of hope and resilience among the well-to-do communities too, which can shape the ethical and social viewpoint of the young students.
Activity and Impact:
1. The project aims to encourage school-going students to walk into their communities, or connect with people in their personal/family network and bring out stories of change and grit in the form of photo essays.
2. The students will click 4-5 photos of the people (whose story is being told) in a normal setting of their home or workplace, and write a short 100-150 word essay on the same.
3. These micro-stories will be shared over the project’s website and also on the Instagram channel, through which people all over the globe will be reached.
4. Photo-essays will give a taste of citizen journalism to the school-going children and will improve their essay writing skills, plus it will contribute to their digital marketing skills partially.
5. Above all, students, teachers, schools and the entire community will showcase how Los Angeles stands for the spirit of enterprise, determination, aspiration and never-say-die attitude.
1. The primary benefit will be the deep empathetic connect that students will develop with their local community and the sense of pride it will give to them for belonging to a community of optimists and fighters.
2. The secondary benefit will be to showcase Los Angeles as a resilient community and to improve the storytelling skills of students, which will help them in their future career opportunities.
Issues to implementation:
1. The primary challenge will be to create the first batch of storytellers who will diligently post approx. 5-7 stories with the project team.
2. The secondary challenge will be to create enough traction on the Instagram channel. Once we get traction, more students will show interest to be a part of our project.
3. Another challenge can be the different time zone that I am in currently. Coordinating with participating students may become a challenge – which is where I would like to team up with few people from the U.S. on Open IDEO for effective collaboration.
The impact expected out of this project is three-fold, described as follows:
1. Project Smiles of Angeles will help school-going students to take the initiative of proactively reaching out to their community members who have shown resilience during the pandemic.
2. The project will develop empathy among the school-going students, which will develop their personality and perspectives about society.
3. Through this project, school-going students will develop creative writing and storytelling capabilities, along with making good use of social media, that will eventually help them turn into people who shape the narrative of Los Angeles community.
Adopt & Adapt
Adoption of the idea by other school communities will be swift and seamless. All that will need to be done is for a school to sign up for the initiative by sending us a mail and then informing/ encouraging their students to turn into digital storytellers.
It will take just 1-2 days for any new school community to get onboarded and be updated about the guidelines. The resources required will be a guidebook and a Plan of Action that will be shared with the school authorities over email. Since it is a community initiative with a non-profit viewpoint, no legal formalities will be required.
And yes, the project aligns with curricula, as storytelling, essay writing and community activities are usual components of school education.