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Developing Young People's Skills in Digital Media; how Brighton University student James has found working with the Cherokee and UK schools.

By James Shreeve, Digital Media Arts student at the University of Brighton

At first I was somewhat apprehensive about the Cherokee nation project as it would not only move me away from our creative comfort zone but would also require working with children and teaching them programs that I have only just recently mastered myself so that would be rather interesting to say the least.

For a while the project itself was alive in email chatter between work colleagues. But unbeknownst to us, the deadline for the project was swiftly moving forward so it was time to get to work and create something.

The birth of the project was a rather challenging one as we were given rather an open brief and that I found rather confusing. We were tasked with working on a plan that would culturally bridge the gap between the children of the Cherokee Nation and the British students. In essence the project was an exercise in knowledge transference between the schools and create a cross cultural crucible.

In theory the students from the English schools would learn about the illustrious history of the Cherokee people and their language, hopefully learning some snippets of Cherokee in the process. By contrast the American students would learn a thing or two about British culture. At the end of this cross cultural exercise would be shown in the children parade so the finished piece would have to be vibrant and eye catching

Each child in our section of the parade would be wielding a banner and possibly wearing the T shirt printed with the finished result proudly emblazoned on their garments. For this plan to be achieved we would first need to decide what the project would be and make it easy for children to follow.

Since my fellow masters students and myself come from different creative backgrounds and have varied artistic disciplines it was a task to come up with a single unified vision. We all were given a quiet few hours to come up with our own ideas then pitch them to the rest of the group. It took some time for us to come up with a coherent idea that was not overly complicated, most of the ideas were practical but a few were perhaps a little far fetched.

After much debating and soul searching we came up with an idea that would be simple, beautiful and stylish. Our plan required each student to choose two letters from the English alphabet. Once all the 26 letters of the alphabet were picked each student would then be required to think of a word which started the chosen letters then produce two images which would represent the word.

The completed images would be sent to schools in America for the students to translate into Cherokee and the corresponding designs would be sent back. In theory all of the work would culminate in banners for the children to hold in children the procession while wearing matching t shirts.

All that needed to be done now was to inform the schools of our plan and get the children to come up with a few ideas about what they could make, I just need to be one lesson ahead of them.

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