The Global Lives Project, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization, will exhibit an interactive video display focused on broadening cross-cultural understanding and empathy during the week-long grand opening of the Palo Alto High School Media Arts Center starting Oct. 13.
The video exhibit features raw footage from the lives of 20 participants of different ethnicities, ages, education levels and socio-economic backgrounds from around the world. The installation will be displayed in the MAC nonstop throughout the five days of the building’s grand opening.
According to the Global Lives website, the purpose of the project is to “explore the diversity of human experience … and encourage discussion, reflection, and inquiry about the wide variety of cultures, ethnicities, languages, and religions on this planet.”
David Harris, the Executive Director of Global Lives and a Mountain View High School alumnus, said Global Lives focuses on two main questions: What could global empathy look like, and what are the boundaries of an individual’s moral universe?
The exhibit displays the days of the participants in real time to the audience as if they were on the PST time zone, according to teacher Eric Bloom.
“In the morning, it’ll be their [the participants’] morning, wherever they are in the world, so there’s an idea about kids just keep coming back,” Bloom said. “They’ll see different parts of the day, and they can reflect on what they’re doing in their day and what somebody else is doing in their day.”
While the Paly community is free to view the exhibit throughout the day, teachers may also schedule self-guided, “Meet the Filmmaker” and docent-led tours via Schoology. All tours are scheduled to last about 30 minutes.
In partnership with curriculum design professor Denise Pope from the Stanford University School of Eduation, Global Lives also developed a teaching curriculum called “Unheard Stories” for middle and high school students. It is aligned with the English and history Common Core standards and consists of three parts: Understanding Myself, Barriers to Understanding and Understanding Others.
Some Paly teachers have integrated the curriculum into their classes, including the Social Justice Pathway.
“Erin [Angell] and I used it [the curriculum] in our Social Justice Pathway to give kids an opportunity to think about who they are and what influences them and then give them the chance to look into the lives of others,” Bloom said.
Harris encourages the use of the Global Lives website, which includes some of the exhibit videos, biographies of participants and an interactive map that shows connections between participants, to supplement the curriculum.
Part of the Global Lives Project exhibit is currently on display at the local think tank Institute for the Future in downtown Palo Alto.
Harris is looking forward to the project being displayed in the MAC.
“I have to say, this [the MAC] is one of the most exciting spaces I’ve had to work with in a long time,” Harris said. “Between your [Paly’s] 14 different screens built into the walls here and the eight screens Global Lives will be bringing in … this will be the first place we’ve ever shown all 20 of the Global Lives videos … so this is a really cool opportunity for me as a filmmaker and artist, as well.”