By | February 17, 2012
Normally I do not like to be wrong.
This time, I was extremely happy that I was.
It seems I have been under the false assumption that my film, Everest: A Climb for Peace was suitable only for adults and “older” kids. Although the film at its core is an exciting adventure film, I just did not really think that children under the age of 15 or 16 would fully understand, appreciate, or have the patience to sit through a documentary film that covered such diverse and complex issues such as peace, war, politics, and the conflict in the Middle East.
I was wrong.
Last week I got an email from Danielle Gahr, 6th grade teacher at Columbia City Elementary School in Oregon. She reached out to me to let me know how much her 6th grade social studies students loved the film! I was taken aback…11 and 12 year olds - loved my film. Really? Are you sure?
And on top of that she was hoping that I could come speak to her students about the film, filmmaking, the conflict in the Middle East, Nepal, Tibet, Orlando Bloom and whatever else the students wanted to know! She was excited and I was starting to get excited too. Although honestly, I was a bit skeptical, would 11 year olds really appreciate and understand? One way to find out…
Today I found out: we have some really smart kids out there! And we also have some wonderful and talented teachers! I have spoken all over the world about my project and about my film - at colleges, at organizations, at businesses such as Nike and Apple. And today, my 90 minute talk to about 50 - 11 and 12 year olds was by far the best, most interesting, and most fun time I have ever had speaking to an audience!
I started off as I often do - speaking about myself and how my “Everest Journey” came about. I basically gave the same introduction that I give to adults and I was surprised to see the look on their faces; not only did they follow me, but they seemed actively engaged in my story and what I was saying. So far so good! From there I showed the kids a special slideshow of Nepal, Tibet, and Africa - and talked about what is like exploring and visiting other cultures, and peoples. This was a big hit.
Next: my book. I have a picture children’s book about the Climb for Peace expedition, which is based on my film; but have not yet been able to get it published. I thought, why not use these kids as my first test audience to see what they think about it? And so through my computer I projected it on the large screen in the library and read it aloud to the kids as they watched the images on screen. Another big hit! I was very happy that they really enjoyed it.
Now the big test. Question and Answer time. Did they pay attention to the film when they saw it last week? Were they going to have any questions - or would this be the shortest Q&A time ever? Well, silly me…I should remember just how inquisitive kids can be. When I asked if there were any questions - 40+ hands shot up in the air (and remained in the air for the next 45 minutes!). If the school day did not end, I imagine they would still be asking me questions! And the questions were not only interesting, but a couple of them were quite brilliant. While I was explaining how we had a satellite set up and were sending emails, uploading video, and writing blogs - one student asked that when it became nighttime if that affected the satellite connection?! It made me think: well, the earth is rotating - and what actually happens (is the satellite following the earth’s rotation) or are we picking up another satellite as go…? I honestly was not quite sure…Great question!
I would like to thank the teachers at Columbia City Elementary and specifically Danielle Gahr - who is obviously a brilliant example of what a great teacher can help accomplish: interested, engaged, and intelligent students capable of understanding complex issues. I am still amazed just how wrong I was in thinking that younger kids would not understand or appreciate my film. This really makes me happy. I hope in the future that I will be able to continue to speaking to young kids about my film and about the important issues of peace, war, culture, teamwork, and friendship.
To learn more about the Everest Peace Project or to have me speak at your school, college, company, or organization, please visit - www.EverestPeaceProject.org
Topics: Everest Peace Project |
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