Cal Humanities

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

"The understanding of a culture comes from hearing the language, tasting the food, seeing personal interactions, experiencing the traditions, and so much more when it is in context."

— Elizabeth Laval & Candice Pendergrass, Sikh Youth Public History Project

A photo of the book cover.

Recent Youth-Based Projects Supported by California Humanities

As students and teachers prepare for back to school, we share some grantee projects that focus on engaging youth.

California Documentary Project NextGen School-Based Projects

With the new school year comes the launch of several recently supported California Documentary Project NextGen projects. CDP NextGen is designed to nurture emerging California media makers ages 18 and under, and we are pleased to see so many school-based projects in this most current round of grants.

In San Diego, Pacific Arts Movement’s Reel Voices is a year-round high school documentary filmmaking program serving area students. In addition to learning how to produce their own films, students also develop critical thinking and storytelling skills and have the opportunity to premiere their films at the San Diego Asian Film Festival to an international audience.

A group of persons in a recording studio.
Courtesy of Pasadena Media.

The Pasadena Unified School District has partnered with Pasadena Media to conduct the Youth Voices Podcast Project. This project will engage predominantly low-income high school youth in developing a series of podcasts on local issues of importance to their communities over the 2021-22 school year.

Additionally, a collaboration between the Mt. Diablo Unified School District and the UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies Changemaker project will lead students at two Bay Area high schools to produce podcasts focused on one of the most significant challenges facing youth in California today, the ability to build sustainable community across difference.

We look forward to sharing these projects when they are complete. More information about this year’s CDP NextGen grant projects is available here.

School-Based and Youth Projects Supported by Humanities for All Quick Grants

A flyer with the title of the event in neon colors.

Youspeak Radio is a Los Angeles-based program with the mission to create a safe space that encourages life-affirming narratives and resilience to combat LGBTQ youth’s alienation and erasure in mainstream media and teen culture. The students who participated in this program produced audio stories told through their voices and viewpoints to address their past, present, and future concerns. For four months, youth participating in this program acquired knowledge in storytelling, audio documentary, and oral history, in addition to researching archival collections at the partner institution, ONE Archives at the USC Libraries.

On July 21, LGBTQ youth hosted a Youspeak Radio Listening Party, a culminating public celebration for this project’s sound-based exploration of intergenerational dialogs. It featured snippets of the students’ audio stories, reflections on their experience, and special guests.

The “Koreatown Storytelling Program” organized by the Koreatown Youth & Community Center based in the Los Angeles’ Koreatown neighborhood is an intergenerational, multilingual, and multiethnic oral history and digital media program designed to promote greater understanding and respect between generations. With a focus on engaging high school students, these intergenerational workshops have given participants the space to investigate the racial, economic, and health inequities in Koreatown.

A group of persons with masks on participate in a succulent workshop.
On July 2, 2021 KSP participants Abigail Eun and Joseph Kim visited the St. James Manor, an elder residence community partner, and led a succulent workshop. During the gardening workshop, KSP youth interviewed our elder partners on the pandemic and the rise of violent hate crimes against Asian elders.

Participant reflections were recently collected in an anthology of youth and elder oral histories. Other programming outputs include a zine workshop, presented in collaboration with LAPL’s Baldwin Hills Branch Zine Librarian Ziba Perez, and a succulent workshop. In this workshop, youth interviewed community elders on topics that included the pandemic and the rise of violent hate crimes against Asian elders.

Experiential Course for High Schoolers Supported by a Humanities for All Project Grant

This fall, Humanities In the City presents an experiential course for public high school students called “The Poetics of Place.” As part of the Humanities in Los Angeles Project, high school students will participate in an 8-week afterschool program of coursework and field experiences designed to excite learners about humanities study and prepare students for college. With instructors, students will study the humanities as a wellspring of fresh ideas, creativity, intellectual inquiry, protest, advocacy, and energized dialogue, and build skills and confidence as critical and imaginative thinkers ready to succeed in college classrooms. The course includes field trips, guests, and learning from scholars, artists, activists, and community leaders. All the experiential learning is grounded in interdisciplinary humanities study that includes literature, philosophy, history, arts, critical theory, and praxis.

The class is free and runs from October 12 – November 30. The course will end with a public celebration and presentation of student work on December 4, 2021, at Edendale Branch of LA Public Library in the Echo Park neighborhood.


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