By: Clayton Johnson
I joined Students of the World because of its dedication to telling stories that matter. But that wasn’t what got me interested in the beginning.
When I transferred to UNC and became a Tar Heel, I immediately began looking for experiences. Experiences that would benefit my future and my time here as a student. Experiences that would expand my horizons beyond classwork and lectures.
A friend of mine told me about Students of the World. As I began to work with the organization, I was worried about what I could contribute. Starting out with SOW, I spent time getting acquainted with our theme for the semester – education, specifically education in the prison system.
It was during that time that I realized how I could experience Students of the World. SOW isn’t a group for un-invested members. It’s a group for those dedicated to social change and who are willing to take charge. SOW equips you to pave the way to your passions. Now, it’s just a matter of finding enough time in the hectic free-for-all that is “college” to put all that I’ve learned to good use.
Check out this infographic we designed to kick off the start of our new campaign PAPER (Promoting Access to Prison Educational Resources). The piece helps visualize some of the big numbers that relate to the current reality of incarceration and the importance of prison education. For example, inmates who participated in educational programs are 43 percent less likely to return to prison, which is a big deal since one half of the people released from prison return within three years.
Read more about our research every Monday keep looking forward to our Friday media-related posts.
By Daleah Wilkerson
“The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything” – Albert Einstein
One day a friend of mine was leaving. She did this frequently on Wednesdays and I asked her where she was going. She quickly and enthusiastically told me “to STUDENTS OF THE WORLD!” I had not heard of the group on campus and wanted to know more, but before I could ask she was out the door straight on to her meeting.
Riddled with homework, and other events found in a typical student’s life, I didn’t search more into the group, but the name stuck with me. It sounded interesting and I later went to meeting to see what it was about. The group is initially as the name states, a group of students focused around making change in the world. But as I have spent more time in Students of World, or SOW, it has become so much more than that.We are not just some people located in a common place attempting to do what many other globally conscious groups do. We are people from different backgrounds and cultures that share a common bond; to ignite social change using the ever present medium of social media.
Yes social media.
The social media being anything from photography, journalism, video and even this blog! Media surrounds us day to day, from the apps we download to the films and TV shows we stream online, and in most cases is where we get our news. As the world continues to connect on a global scale it has become more apparent what social problems exist and the potential to solve these problems with positive change. SOW operates from this global standpoint, not in a way where our focus is on massive global change but instead seeking to ignite positive change at a local level. For example, here in Chapel Hill, our present focus is education on a communal scale.
We are currently backing projects that benefit education for prisoners and immigrants that are in the area. Not only does out current project seek to educate those considered separate from society, but also to highlight the problem and spur change in the opinion of the public. From SOW’s hashtag #mediaforgood it is apparent what this group stands for. It is people trying to help other people to create a better world one film, tweet, photo, communal event, etc. at a time. We use the media we love and that is ever present to incite social change, and this is why I joined this group.
By: Wynton Wong
Spring Break is officially upon us, fellow Tar Heels, not that you would know it by the weather forecasts (currently 36 degrees and raining with a “wintery mix” on the way). Fortunately, SOW-UNC is hard at work and ready to hit the ground running when the reprieve from midterms ends and classes resume.
In the past month SOW has hosted a movie screening, released its promotional video, visited the Prison Collective, and contacted some amazing people involved with prison education.
We screened The House I Live In, a documentary about the American criminal justice system that I highly recommend to anyone interested in human rights, especially if you are interested in the American justice system (it’s on Netflix Instant Streaming.) At the screening we also premiered our Whiteboard Promotional video, we hope that it clarifies what we do and inspires you all to join us. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out here, along with some behind-the-scenes photos.
Earlier in the month, we sent a crew out to Carrboro to visit the Prison Books Collective, where we interviewed the folks who spend their time bringing books to incarcerated individuals in North Carolina and other states throughout the South. Lisa wrote a post about our time there, so check that out too if you haven’t. We learned a lot and had a great time meeting people dedicated to improving conditions for prisoners. We are continuing to connect with experts and people involved with education and incarcerated individuals including Gabrielle with Black and Pink.
Black and Pink is an organization that supports LGBTQ individuals in the prison system. It runs programs that work to fight against violence and injustices in the prison system. They also run a pen pal program to help incarcerated people connect to the world. We are excited to work with Gabrielle as well as many others who work in this field.
We are excited to share everything we make and raise awareness about this cause.
Continue to check the blog for updates and sneak peeks.
At our screening event last night we premiered our very first promotional video for the Carolina community.
We hope that it gives you some more information about us and what we do. We also hope that it inspires you to join us!
It was a lot of fun to create this video here are some photos of the process. Check out our Instagram for more behind-the-scenes fun.
By Wynton Wong
It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a month since Winter Break ended due to all of the work that we’ve done so far. Since announcing our focus for the media campaign for the coming months (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out this post by Kristi) we have begun taking the steps to make this media campaign as effective and fantastic as possible.
We are working with amazing people across North Carolina to foster awareness of the educational needs of incarcerated individuals. The Prison Books Collective in Carrboro, N.C., which takes requests for books from prisoners and works to fulfill them, and Brick Oettinger, the Associate Director for Correctional Education at the Friday Center at UNC-CH are just a few. We’re learning so much and are so excited to learn more from our growing list of contacts.
The plan is to research and gather raw materials like interview footage through February and will continue to work to create finished pieces through the end of the semester. We will try to arrange events to promote a more comprehensive understanding of this important issue. We have adopted a goal to increase the number of book donations and volunteers at the Prison Books Collective.
We hope to be accepted into the Clinton Global Institute University to see if we will be attending their annual conference in March, where we will have the opportunity to spread our passion and inspire our peers across the country. We will also get to see the cool projects they are working on.
P.S. Look out for the upcoming release of our promo video!