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Practicing Art

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Barbra Nei shares immigrant story through video

Interesting - girl from Kenya - said before immigrating to the U.S. she knew nothing about discrimination. Or did not even think about other cultures

Barbara Nei now speaking. Began this project after the 2001, thinking about the backlash. Worked with the students at Wellstone School. Noticed that all the students had cell phones. Came up with a way to use phones to make Imovies.

Created a website. Each student has a bar with interview and their writing and their movie.

D-I-A-LOGZ

Notes on Practicing Art and/with Technology

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[My comments in square brackets. Otherwise, my best attempt at summarizing / interpreting]

We started with a fascinating video of immigrant's stories in Minneapolis. I think it will be available for you to view when we publish the collection from the colloquium...

Barbara Nei talks about her work. It began for after the Sept 11, 2001 attacks and the backlash that immigrants felt after that event. Her first project involved projecting student immigrants' writing on a building in South Minneapolis. Later she worked on a video project with students and noticed that all of her students had cell phones. She wanted to find a way to use cell phone video cameras and made contact with a company [missed the name] the company helped get her set up with technology that helps do this.

[Next came a live collabracam experiment. This was pretty wild. I think my radical compositionist colleagues might be interested in doing something like this to have their students practice multi-modal writing. Hopefully we'll be able to post some of the results of this to the collection as well.]

Q: Stories can be powerful, but they also have the potential to retraumatize. How do you help students work through that?
Hamline: Well, we've never told people that their story was too difficult to tell, so don't tell it.
Barbara Nei: The students we work with get to choose what they want to tell us. Some of our students have told hard stories, and they've wanted to tell those stories. If it was real traumatic, I'd talk with the teacher. Wellstone school is so incredible, which is why I never let them off the hook. They have to keep working with me because they have the resources to do these things.
Hamline Hamil: Our work is not about capitalizing on someone's terrible story, it's about speaking and giving people the chance to tell their stories.

Q: Just to follow up, in the research I do, there is an ethical framework that is important to follow, to make sure that the people we work with have agency over what happens to their stories.
A: Yes, for example, in Foreign Born, we never showed a full face, and that's because some of those students are refugees or are illegal immigrants. [In another project] we had their parents sign releases, and some of the parents didn't want to participate, so we didn't use those stories.

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