Students editing on ipads

In the First in the Families project, I work with students on campuses across the country to create digital stories of their experiences of being a first-generation student.  The project is a partnership with Class Action. 

After my training with Story Center, I began teaching a digital storytelling course and then also created a digital story assignment for my Education and the American Dream course.  From there, I was invited to keynote the Class Action’s first First Generation Student Summit and to speak to faculty and staff at Brown University (who was hosting the summit) about media creation with first-generation students.

Class Action and I crowd-funded the equipment for a “Mobile Storylab”: a set of iPads loaded with video and image editing apps, audio recording equipment, and other peripherals.  I spend three days with the students, sharing stories about being “first”, working with them to imagine ways to tell stories visually and with sound, listening through multiple –often painful — drafts of their narratives, and then supporting the limitless reflection that happens as they edit and have to decide how long to hold images on the screen, how to use color or transitions, how sound and music deepen connections with their stories.  Often, this is the first time that students have told their stories.


Tales of Rafha from First In Our Families on Vimeo.


On some campuses, students have held campus screenings to launch discussions of first-generation issues. Some students choose to keep their stories private.


Public stories can be viewed on the project website, First in our Families