The Youth Video Exchange Project Between The United States & Malaysia

I really need your help to spread the word. If you think that this project will be beneficial to the youth in either country, please share. Let's make this viral.

Once upon a time, a handwritten parchment was a cherished means of bringing people together. It is still low-cost & easily accessible so, for many years, I used it for a meaningful writing project which connected the beautiful children at my secluded school deep in the jungles of Borneo with those in other parts of Malaysia. I've seen first-hand how both sides benefited from the exchange & gained so much from each other even though the exchange was merely intra-national.

Despite coming to the US as a Fulbright scholar, my heart has always been with the children in Malaysia: What can I do to help them develop into wholesome global citizens? Also, as a guest to the United States, I've also been wondering what I could offer to this country that has so graciously hosted me at a top university as well as exposed me to their greatest minds & ideas. I have been truly blessed & I want to pay it forward.

With the rise of social media & the increasing popularity of short videos, a video exchange project between youths in the US & Malaysia is timely & relevant to a new generation of social natives. As they engage in the project, they will develop leadership skills, speaking skills, presentation skills, technical skills, an international perspective & an understanding of cultures other than their own, much of which can never be taught in a traditional classroom setting. These skills will be invaluable to them in an ever globalizing world suffering from depressed economies. Video exchanges are already happening & will continue to happen in ever increasing numbers. Why don't we use it for educational purposes & to promote cultural exchange?

Project Objectives:

1. Student-led project-based activity
2. Promote international cultural & educational exchange
3. Develop English language arts & cultural competence
4. Provide opportunities for authentic use & naturalistic practice of the 4 language skills, with an emphasis on speaking
5. Provide opportunities to develop 21-century skills in information technology & communications
6. Build positive, deep & emotional connections between nations

The Mentor's Role:

Ultimately, you are important because you remind your students that this project is more than just recording a video.
You prepare their hearts & their minds for the peculiarities they are about to experience
& inspire them to see both worlds in an intellectual, empathetic, & mature light.
What they get out of their participation depends more on your words & attitude than the videos they will receive.
Mentors are the only ones who can register, on behalf of their students. Regardless of how independent or brilliant your students are, they will still need a responsible adult who will root for them & protect them. You can be a teacher/counselor/social worker. Preferably, someone with some knowledge of computers, video-production, & video-editing.

You will be responsible for:
1) Mentoring 1 Team: Be there when they have questions or need advice. Care about their progress. Remind them of deadlines. Don't make the videos for them. Empower them. Let them work together, learn & experiment independently.
2) Quality: Check that the videos produced add value to the recipients as well as reflect thoughtful & mature global citizens.
3) Protector: Watch out for the welfare & safety of the team you're mentoring.
4) Contact: Be willing to receive communications from me regarding the project.

Education Malaysia at the Embassy of Malaysia has agreed to provide certificates of participation for participants in the US: the organisation/school, the mentor, & 5 participating students. Additionally, they will mail Malaysian souvenirs to the students who have completed the program.

The Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE) has also agreed to provide certificates to the Malaysian participants of this project! Certificates will be awarded to the organisation/school, the mentor, & participating students. Additionally, they will mail US souvenirs to the students who have completed the program.

If you'd like to be a sponsor (I foresee a need to provide used/sponsored cameras/computers to schools/organisations serving low-income communities), contact me!

If you're a student & you're very interested in taking part, build a team with your schoolmates, & persuade an adult at your school/community center to mentor your team.

The Project:

A great metaphor for what we are trying to achieve.

1) Teams Will Be Paired According To Age Category

After the mentor has registered & every participant's parents have signed their consent forms, the team will be paired with their counterparts, a team from another country within the same age category.

In order to protect the privacy & safety of every participant, videos will ONLY be exchanged between members of both teams. Participants are NOT allowed to keep copies of the videos of their counterparts or share them unless permission is given.

The video exchanges will take place PRIVATELY on YouTube: the videos will be uploaded to YouTube, set to "Private", & shared via email to the participants & teachers on both teams. You can also set your uploaded videos to "Public" if you don't mind your video being shared, viewed, & stored by the general public.

If you want to show a private video you have received from your counterparts to a third party, you'll need to get permission from everybody in their team. It can come in the form of a simple request in the comments section of the video or a simple email. Be sure to state who you want to share it with. For example, "Hi guys, is it okay if I show this video to my parents/siblings/classmates/teachers?" Wait for a yes from everybody on the other team. Even if only one person says no, you should honor their request.

If you really want to share something, don't worry. The final video at the end of this project will be available for public viewing. It summarizes what everyone in the team has learned from the project. This one can be shared publicly so that the rest of your school & your community can see what you've been up to.

2) 1 Video Every 2 Weeks For 5 Months: Jan-May 2017

Project Duration: 5 months = 1st week of January 2017 - last week of May 2017
Total # of videos: 10 videos = 1 video every 2 weeks = 2 videos every month
Video Duration: Not more than 5 minutes
Language: International English

Age Categories:
a) Upper Primary/Elementary School
b) Lower Secondary/Middle School
c) Upper Secondary/High School

# of participants in a team: 5 participants within the same age category
-Every participant must take the lead role in at least one video.
-Every participant must at least make a token appearance in every video.
-Division of tasks, recording schedules, topics, dialogue, etc will be decided by the teams.

Required Equipment:
-desktop/laptop (for video editing)
-internet connection (for uploading)
-creative & curious minds (for magic to happen)

3) Content of the Videos

You are the stars of your show & you get to decide what to share with your counterparts.
We should not be expecting National Geographic-esque documentaries, nor Oprah-like talkshow interviews. It can be something very simple, low-budget, & yet significant. All you need to do is put some thought into it. If you're new to producing YouTube videos, there is a comprehensive guide on WikiHow.

Each team has 2 weeks time to produce 1 video of a maximum of 5 minutes. The video must be uploaded & shared on the Sunday of the 2nd week. If you're late, be ready to explain yourself & respond to the torrent of concerned emails by your counterparts who are wondering if you're okay.

Over the duration of the project, each team will produce a total of 10 videos. You may make more if you like. Participants decide, as a team, the topics for each individual video. These topics will not be standardized because every community has something very unique to share & we want you to surprise us.

The only content that you have to put into every video is:
1) answer the questions that your counterparts have asked in their video
2) ask your counterparts questions about their lives, culture, or country
3) The final video of the project (on the last week of May 2017) will be about what you've gained from the experience. Thank everyone for taking part & wish them well. This video will be shared publicly & used to evaluate the project.

If you're stuck, here are some suggested topics to help you:
-answer a question asked in a past video
-"how to" or "what is" videos
-surprising/strange things
-Local: landmarks/markets/school/teachers
-Culture: language/food/fashion/traditional attire/religion
-Hobbies: sports/games

Extras: You might want to document your experiences producing the videos for a "making of" blog or video. You might also want them for a "bloopers" video.

This Project Provides Participants With Opportunities To:

-gain an international perspective by experiencing cultures from abroad as presented by its inhabitants
-creatively present their own culture & view it from an outsider's perspective
-collaborate with others in a team while honing their leadership & people skills
-experience authentic & engaging use of language
-practice all 4 language skills: listening, speaking, reading, writing
-hone their directing, acting, video recording & editing skills
-build lifelong friendships through a shared experience

Terms & Conditions:

1) Registration:

a) Registration is open to mentors in the United States & in Malaysia. Registrations from other countries will also be considered.
b) Extended registration deadline for the 2017 pilot cohort is at 11.59pm, Sunday, Dec 18, 2016. Signups after that date will be entered into a mailing list & sent an invitation to be part of the next cohort (if the pilot cohort is successful in achieving its objectives & both countries benefited from the project).
c) One adult can only mentor & register 1 team.
d) Each team must consist of 5 participants from the same school/organisation & age category.
e) Every participant in the team must have the expressed consent of a parent/guardian.

2) Privacy:

a) The private videos from your counterpart are for your private consumption only. Do not share it with the public or show it to a third party.
b) The sharing of a private video from your counterpart is only allowed with permission in some form of writing from every person involved in the other team.

3) Participation:

a) Teams must commit to the entire 5 month duration of the project.
b) Teams must produce, upload & share 1 video of 5 minutes every 2 weeks. Videos must be uploaded & shared by the Sunday of the 2nd week.
c) Teams must source their own equipment.
d) Teams should consult their mentor should any grievances arise.

4) Content:

a) The videos produced must be primarily in international English.
b) The videos produced must provide some form of knowledge as well as reflect cultured & thoughtful individuals.
c) The videos produced must promote goodwill & strengthen relations between the people of both countries.
d) Every participant must take the lead role in at least one video.
e) Every participant must at least make a token appearance in every video.
f) In every video, teams must answer questions asked by their counterparts &, in return, ask questions about their counterpart's lives, culture, or country.
g) The final video (on the last week of May 2017) will be about what you've gained from the experience. Thank everyone for taking part & wish them well.

Let's make this happen!
If you have any questions, fell free to email me or, even better, ask me in the comments below so that everyone can read my response too.
Everyone, SHARE!!!

P/S: The first cohort to complete the project will get to give the project a funky name!

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