Clarkston Youth Share Their Voice through Global Dialogues

on March 18 | in Celebrate Clarkston, News/Updates | by | with No Comments

Global Dialogues seeks Clarkston area youths’ creative stories for prizes and a chance to be made into films

An international storytelling contest called Global Dialogues is looking for young people in Clarkston to submit stories, poems, songs, videos, theatre pieces, comic strips and other forms of creative expression, and is offering cash prizes to the winners.

Submissions to the international contest will be selected by a jury of Clarkston community members, and the winners of the international contest have a chance to be made into short films by some of the world’s best filmmakers. Through YouTube, a partner of Global Dialogues, films based on the winners of previous contests have received more than 7.5 million total views.

Participant’s projects can cover any topic related to HIV/AIDs and sexuality or violence. Projects are accepted in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Kiswahili, or Bahasa Indonesian, and participants are encouraged to work together in groups to create their stories. Prizes up to $2500 are available for the winning stories.

The opportunity to share perspectives through these stories will inform a series of recommendations that local leaders on the Clarkston jury will use in an effort to improve public health and education. Jury members will hold a broad stakeholder forum to share what they learn from the submitted stories.

McKenzie Wren, the Executive Director of the Clarkston Community Center, said that one goal of the project is to give young people a voice on subjects that concern them in their community, helping them influence the leaders of their community by sharing their perspectives on some of the challenges they face.

“It’s a fabulous opportunity for our community and it brings an opportunity to hear the voices of multiple young people. It’s a chance to let young people speak for themselves,” she said.

This is the first year of a three-year pilot of the project in the United States. The project developed from a similar project in Africa called “Scenarios from Africa,” which aimed to address the AIDs epidemic by giving voice to the people in the virus’s hardest-hit communities.

While submissions are being accepted from any location worldwide, Global Dialogues is concentrating on four locations in the United States: Clarkston, GA, Ship Rock, NM, Sunflower County, MS, and Athens County, OH. Each of these places was selected because of sociocultural need and each place will have a community- based jury process for advancing winning submissions to the international contest.

Dan Enger, the International Coordinator of Global Dialogues, said that the decision to accept submissions in nearly any available format was an intentional effort to give youth the freedom to express themselves in the way that feels most comfortable to them.

“We take care to say, ‘Please, express yourself, and express yourself in whatever format.’ Even if they’re writing fictional stories, if you’re watching 1000 stories about gang violence in Chicago, you’re going to get a clear picture,” he said.

One goal of the project, he said, is to serve as a qualitative public health investigation by encouraging participating youth to draw from their own experience. Members of the juries that review submissions will send recommendations for public education initiatives and policy changes, based on the stories and submissions they receive, to their contacts in local and state government.

The Global Dialogues Project, which was successful in Mali, Senegal, and Burkina Faso, and is holding its first contest in the United States this year, is planning to expand to Haiti, Guatemala, Mexico, and northeastern Brazil in the coming years.

Submissions should be dropped off at or mailed to the Clarkston Community Center at P.O. Box 217, Clarkston, GA, 30021 , or sent by e-mail to McKenzie Wren at by midnight on April 10, 2013.

By Justin Leverett
Justin is working with CDF as part of Quaker Voluntary Service
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