Youth Empowerment with Bridges to Understanding


My friend Guðrún sent me a link to Phil Borges’ talk on TED that reminded her of my experiment in Varanasi. It sparked my interest so I went to Bridges’ website, saw that they offered internships for US students, wrote to ask if I could join despite not being an American student, got a “yes, of course, join us”, got Guðrún to go with me – all within days.

Bridges to Understanding is a Seattle based NGO that has created a curriculum that aims at connecting classrooms all over the world to share their stories, in order to encourage cultural literacy and widen the students horizons. Understanding other’s is a key – they believe – to limit conflicts. They partner with local schools, RDF being one of their collaborator.

Rural Development Foundation [RDF India] is a Non Profit Organisation that runs rural schools across the state of Telengana and Andhra Pradesh. Guðrún and I were asked to teach the Bridges curriculum for the first time in RDF Matendla School, in a village so rural and small that it is not even marked on google maps. In addition to the youth empowerment class Additionally, we taught an arts class [that turned out being a drawing class], assisted with general logistics for the head office and created a fundraiser that we called Buy a Recipe – Recipes from RDF Matendla’s kitchen. 

The Bridges curriculum was a part of the schools Youth Empowerment program. Over the semester, the children and us explored their local culture, both in a wider Indian context and compared to other cultures in the world. Together we practiced photographic techniques and framing, storytelling and editing. To ensure each student would have a role, the students were divided in two groups, who each produced a short digital story.

Maa vooru Manchidi – I love my village : Village sustainability 

Literacy – Developing Village Knowledge