COVID. Culture. Creativity. Connection.

As students in “International Understanding in a Time of COVID-19” processed their experiences writing letters and sharing conversations with peers in Uganda, they created podcasts, art, writing, and songs to express their thoughts, feelings, and discoveries.

Miska, a 10th grader from Nikolai who lives in Anchorage, created a podcast, inspired by a shared injustice he saw in both Uganda and the US. One of the Ugandan participants, Fred, had recently been beaten by police in a market, even though he was buying food within curfew hours. Miska explored and built on that story with Fred’s permission.

Kim, a student in Kodiak who loves crafting and was inspired by her new Ugandan friends’ accounts of beading and sewing, did extensive research before creating this art via Adobe. You can see her final piece and her process below.

Emma, a student artist from Denali Park, shared the following words and created the following art that included all the participants from Alaska and Uganda.
“I’m amazed how in Uganda people are using this time to benefit themselves. Candiru Recho shared that she has started learning to tailor her own clothing, and Amanziru Palm Sunday has spent her time making paper beads and necklaces. Sharing our experiences during the quarantine also highlighted some differences in our lives. With schools shut down due to COVID-19, in Uganda lessons are being broadcasted to students over the radio. This not only lets students continue learning from home, but gives children who cannot afford school fees the opportunity to take classes that they would otherwise not be able to access. In Uganda the quarantine comes with a strict curfew enforced by police officers, and there isn’t uproar or backlash like there is in the U.S. if a police officer uses force against a civilian. There is no media coverage and no protests like what we have recently been seeing across the United States. One of the Ugandan students shared that he had been beaten by police the previous day for being out too early in the morning. All of us from both locations had to try to see the story from the other’s perspective. I have learned a lot so far from this project, and I hope to get to learn even more about peers across the world. I also hope that as my Ugandan Penpal Semi wrote, ‘that everything will get on and stand well.'”

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