Hi there! Welcome to our podcast project. We hope your ears like what they hear. My name is Rachel Hansen, and I teach social studies at Muscatine High School, a school of about 1,500 students located in southeast Iowa, USA.
With the support of a National Geographic Society grant, our World Cultures team set out to produce a series of student podcasts exploring the human experience during the spring semester of 2019.
This grant changed the lives of our students. There was a visible and audible shift in the life of our classroom once we began using Paul Salopek's Out of Eden project and the Out of Eden Learn platform. Students asked daily if their new pen pals in Singapore or Spain had signed on to share their stories. They saw themselves in the stories of migrants we studied, and they began to understand the power of being able to tell your own story.
It was so rewarding to be there and watch it all unfold—to see confidence bloom from a desert of self-doubt. I had a front row seat to the show, watching students light up as they heard themselves on the podcasts they produced, even after telling me they couldn’t possibly make a podcast because they hated the sound of their voice. I had the privilege of cheering them on through the dark night of the soul when they'd gone through take after take after take only to be interrupted by a rogue announcement on the intercom.
This project stretched our students in so many important ways. It challenged them to listen to the stories and perspectives of people from entirely different cultures. The creative process challenged them to gain deep knowledge in their topic area and to find a human story that put a voice to the statistics.
Ultimately, we learned that who we empower to tell our stories matters.
This project was generously supported by a grant from the National Geographic Society.