The Power of Education
What does it mean to empower youth? What effect can great teaching have on a young person? How are communities improved when young people feel as though they are making an impact?
These are questions that go to the heard of EPIC’s mission, andin recent years an important part of my life. As a high school history teacher I constantly questioned how my classes could help my students understand their communities, but more importantly, how my students could help improve their communities. I developed and implemented student-centered curriculum focused on current events, sustainability, and the actions young people could take to improve their worlds.
EPIC shares these same goals for education. Through programs such as the Iraqi Youth Hike and PHOTOVOICE IRAQ:Picturing Change EPIC is working to implement creative, innovative, student-centered programs where the young people of Iraq feel empowered.
I’m Joanna Fisher the newest member of the EPIC team. Feel free to find out more about me here. I’m thrilled to be working with anorganization that combines my two passions of education and development. I look forward to applying my experience as an educator, while supplementing my graduate studies focus on youth and development.
Having the space to be creative is an incredibly important part of any young person’s development. Practicing the arts and being creative help young people learn how to problem solve, express themselves, and can be immensely therapeutic. For the huge youth population of Iraq there is little space for creativity in education. PHOTOVOICE IRAQ:Picturing Change will bring a creative grassroots program to this population through which they can express themselves and hopes for their communities. These photos will eventually raise public awareness about the issues facing this huge youth population.
The PHOTOVOICE IRAQ:Picturing Change project is one of the things that drew me to EPIC. I had heard about Photovoice’s successes in the United States and China. In my own teaching career I have used similar projects that foster students’ creativity and help them find their own voices. When a young person must answer specific questions about their hopes and concerns for the future it forces them to reflect on how they imagine their futures playing out. This reflection is imperative in a young person’s growth as it allows them to not only realize how they want their future to look, but also to acknowledge the barriers to this future. By imagining these barriers young people can actively work to overcome them. The overcoming of barriers leaves students empowered and confident.
I have seen these same outcomes with my students, and am excited to see the positive impacts Photovoice can have on the youth of Iraq. As a huge youth population in a rapidly changing country, young Iraqis need a project like Photovoice now more than ever.
EPIC's 2012 fall intern. Specializing in youth and development, she is a master's candidate at American University's School of International Service.