WIL Leadership Vignette 05:
Dr Asha Chand
What was learned from this:
Context of the event, experience or activity:
Although a number of secondary sources exist relating to the history of Blacktown City, there is no significant publication which provides a good summary of the area especially in digital format, which is the new medium of knowledge. The memories project was introduced keeping in mind the changing dynamics of journalism practice where the power of the pen/keyboard has shifted into the hands of ordinary citizens
Description of the event, experience or activity:
This activity allows the students to use the journalism skills they have amassed over three years of university and apply these in a WIL project involving community engagement. While the project is a pilot initiative, it will be ongoing as new students take up this unit. The main focus has been to gain a tangible and measured outcome for the students as well as for the stakeholders, Blacktown City Council library and the University of Western Sydney. Not many of the senior citizens who have excellent knowledge of the area and its history are able to tell their stories to the world (global context). In this collaborative project, the Blacktown library staff working on the oral histories project identified half a dozen senior citizens from the local area who were willing to share their stories. The journalism students then met with these senior citizens to record their stories (for video and print journalism). These stories will be available to the public via a website which is being developed especially for this project. The students, working in teams, are also interviewing at least one famous person from the Blacktown area.
The visible outcome will be a website showcasing the stories. The students will be able to add the work to their professional portfolio. The most important outcome would be the capturing of memories and stories before these are lost in the world of speedy communication where sometimes only those who are able to use new technologies get their voices heard.
Students (as young adults) are able to develop a lot more appreciation and patience to let the senior residents tell their stories and hear them out. This sort of learning facilitates reflective thinking; an essential component of journalism training. The senior residents felt valued and wanted to share their memories. Other outcomes:
Asha Chand teaches communication and media in the School of Humanities and Communication Arts at the University of Western Sydney.