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Global Education for All Ages

By: David Harris

While BAIL has done an incredible job this year building community among internationally-minded adults in the Bay Area, there is another group of people here in our little corner of the world that perhaps are just as much in need of help in this area: students. The Global Lives Project has set out to create opportunities for students to engage and get to know what everyday life is like around the world.


Global Lives video installations showcase daily life in its raw form — 24 hours of unedited footage from waking up and making breakfast to commuting, eating dinner and preparing for bed — presented in a way that surrounds viewers, inviting them to reflect and discuss the footage. From students in Malawi and Lebanon to a farmer in Indonesia or workers in Brazil and Serbia, our videos feature lives from around the world.

In 2014, Global Lives brought our traveling exhibits to five Bay Area public schools ranging from elementary to university, directly reaching more than 6,000 students at Envision Academy, Gateway Middle School, Creative Arts Elementary, Palo Alto High School and San Francisco State University.

 The image below shows our exhibit at Envision Academy in Oakland. Each exhibit includes a set of eight big-screen TVs, showcasing footage of our diverse collection of on-screen participants from around the world.

Global Lives exhibit at Envision Academy in Oakland


These displays are complemented and enhanced by curriculum supplements, assemblies for students, and community evenings for parents, teachers and community members — all designed to engage everyone in the school and foster cross-cultural understanding. Our exhibit opening at Palo Alto High School (pictured here) featured a special evening gathering with Arianna Huffington, Shelby Coffey (Newseum), David Kelley (IDEO), and Kara Swisher (Re/code).

Using our newly published Unheard Stories curriculum, teachers deliver lessons based on Global Lives videos to students in middle and high school. The curriculum, developed in collaboration with the Stanford Graduate School of Education, is available for free download on our website and additional new curricula are coming soon.

Global Lives was also proud to co-host two events with BAIL in 2014, both featuring Global Lives videos on display. One of those events was a movie night that included a happy hour, screening of Without Shepherds and lively discussion with the film’s director. The other event, BAIL eventpictured here, was a panel titled “Work Locally, Act Globally,” featuring representatives who have worked with some of the Bay Area’s leading organizations engaged internationally, including Kiva, Room to Read, Code for America and Living Goods. Bringing out more than 200 guests (the largest BAIL event to date), it was a great success and sparked a vibrant conversation about how Bay Area residents can build local careers working in international development, human rights, education and technology to make the world a better place.

Though it can be difficult to measure the impact of our work, we have also teamed up with alumni of the Stanford International Comparative Education graduate program to attempt just that. Initial survey data indicates strong increases in empathy and global understanding among student exhibit visitors and curriculum users.

Being based here in the Bay Area has made so many of these collaborations organic and created opportunities I’m not sure would be possible in any other city. This year has been one of exciting growth and partnership, and we look forward to building on this momentum in 2015.

In the new year Global Lives plans to bring our curriculum and exhibits to many more schools, fostering empathy and engaging young people across the Bay Area, but we can’t do it without friends like you. BAIL’s leaders made the generous move to donate all proceeds from our two co-hosted events in 2014 to Global Lives. Please join BAIL and become a supporter of Global Lives today. Other ways to engage also include volunteering, hosting an exhibit/event, producing a film for Global Lives or participating in some of our future events.


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David Harris is the Founder and Executive Director of the Global Lives Project and Research Director at the Institute for the Future. David is a cross-disciplinary mediamaker, working at the intersection of art, activism and academic inquiry on the politically charged questions surrounding globalization and social justice.

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