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My name is Wendy Jewell and I have been associated with The MY HERO Project almost since it began. Currently, I am a producer/writer/educator living outside of Toronto. But it was in Southern California where I met my dear friend and fellow adventurer, Jeanne Meyers. She told me about this thing she was creating on the "World-Wide Web", about heroes and her desire to make uplifting, enlightening material available on the Internet. More than a decade ago, the Internet was a baby and my child was a toddler so I didn't fully appreciate what Jeanne was trying to do. Once I had a teenager using the Internet, I really GOT IT. The MY HERO Project has been an on-line resource for my daughter, not just to learn about great people, but to learn about herself. It's a way for her to voice what's important to her in a non-violent, socially responsible, tolerant way. And that's what Jeanne was talking about… what the MY HERO team, my family and I have been talking about ever since.

WOMEN TRANSFORMING MEDIA
WENDY JEWELL
by The MY HERO Project

Wendy Jewell filming for AIY in Nepal ( (Slater Jewell-Kemker))

Wendy Jewell is a Producer/Writer and the Facilitator of the MY HERO Global Learning Circles. These circles stimulate dynamic, interactive and online exchanges that bring the classroom into the world. Teachers and students interact with other classes around the world, discussing and sharing their ideas, stories, art, music and short films about who inspires them and who are their heroes. Over the past 12 years the circles have grown into a vibrant online community of teachers and students who come back year after year to participate. Over 500 K-12 classes involving over 12,000 students from 50 countries have taken part. This slide deck tells the story of these circles.

Call To Action Circle (The MY HERO Project ())

From kindergarten students in Azerbaijan skyping with their CALL TO ACTION circle partners in a middle school in India, to a Moroccan class who have to ride in the back of a truck to upload their stories in the next villages internet cafe, to US students and teachers sharing the stories, art, short films and audio of their heroes, Wendy was constantly inspired and amazed at the positive stories of heroes archived from students around the world.

Elementary School Feedback for CIRCLES (The MY HERO Project ())

Wendy says that MY HERO has also given her great opportunities to meet and interact with the global educational community. She looks forward to working with the teachers and schools she knows, as well as discovering new ones like the teacher of a class from France who contacted her after the terrorist attacks last November to ask if they could join MY HERO to connect with what is good in the world. They did and their teacher told Wendy how it not only lifted their spirits but also lifted those of their parents and the community outside of Paris.

She looks forward to working with any and all teachers and students who join MY HERO in September for the next sessions of The MY HERO Global Learning Circles

Picture block from story about AIY (AIY)

In this evolving age of global education and experiential learning, the MY HERO Learning Circles play an important role in preparing children for the new world that awaits them upon graduation. Some students have created portfolios with their MY HERO published works that have empowered them to get into great colleges and/or jobs. Wendy feels that her daughter, Slater, has benefited from the mentorship provided by the team at The MY HERO Project. MY HERO gave her the confidence as a young person to pursue her dream of being a filmmaker and climate activist. As Producer of her documentary AN INCONVENIENT YOUTH, a coming of age story set against the rise of the global youth climate movement, we at MY HERO have watched her blossom into an accomplished director. Wendy and Slater have made this journey together, filming for 8 years, in 8 countries with 250 hours of footage that they are in the process of editing into a feature documentary. Wendy says that she has been so humbled meeting these amazing young people from around the world doing everything they can to create a green, sustainable future for all of us.

Wendy's earlier MY HERO story in her own words:

My family and I were lucky enough to represent MY HERO at the ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL iEARN CONFERENCES in Slovakia '04 and Holland '06. 1,000 students, teachers and adults from all around the globe get together every year to share ideas and projects about how to improve the world and our places in it. While we were conducting MY HERO workshops on journalism, filmmaking and the Learning Circles, Slater attended the Youth Summit and each time was thrust into a group of 150 kids from all over the globe. As a parent, I watched Slater explode with optimism. I saw her mind reel in the amazing possibilities that open up when a group of like-minded kids puts their heart and soul into creating something.

In Kosice, Slovakia we made new friends from countries like Egypt, Taiwan, Spain, Australia and Russia who introduced us to THEIR projects. We met Joanne Tawfilis, and got to know her Art Miles Mural Project, which plans to wrap the pyramids of Egypt with 12 MILES of murals to mark the end of the United Nations Decade of Peace. We learned about YouthCan, a youth-run organization that uses technology to inspire, connect and educate people worldwide about environmental issues.

In the Netherlands, Slater shared a cabin with students from Iran, Egypt, USA, Wales, Australia, Mongolia, England and the Netherlands. There were countless different religions and cultural beliefs, along with many discussions…heated and fun… about how they could create the world they want to live in. And through it all, one unifying idea flew from cabin to cabin to the disco to the debate circle to the closing ceremony: "We are the new generation…we have great ideas and we have each other to work together around the world to create positive change."

A newly-minted iEARN proponent, I became MY HERO's facilitator for iEARN's LEARNING CIRCLES…an online smorgasbord of interactive, experiential learning shared between classes from all around the world. Outside of North America, the classes in our groups have ranged from Belarus to Nepal, Mexico to Nigeria, Taiwan to Germany. We began by exchanging class surveys and welcome packages. What fun! The chocolate and maps from Slovenia, pistachios and prayers from Iran, music from Mexico and bumper stickers from Texas all added to our knowledge of each other. By the time we started exchanging ideas about who inspires us, we felt much more like friends sharing ideas around a campfire.

The Learning Circle provides an amazing geography lesson and cultural exchange to any classroom. For the small, informal homeschooling group Slater was in, it was a slam dunk. The results of our first homeschooling Learning Circle project looked like this: ECREATE page for the SCHOOLERS.

Working with the head of the iEARN Learning Circle, Barry Kramer, has been a joy and I applaud his ever-expanding vision for experiential project-based learning. Facilitating the MY HERO Learning Circle has given me a new insight into teachers and why the ones that go the extra distance are so valuable to any society. All the teachers I have worked with have gone beyond curriculum and what is expected of them to share a global journey with their students. Here are just a few of the wonderful teachers that have shared this journey in cyberspace (click on the teacher class page following their quotes to see their students' journalism, art and short films for The MY HERO Project):

Debbie Senger from Canada: "The MY HERO Project spoke to me as a teacher and I felt my class would learn about what it means to be a hero. This has been an uplifting experience for us all and I am very proud of the results."
Debbie's Class Page

Guillermo Ojeda Lajud from Mexico: "I've been teaching English for several years now, and throughout those years I've seen the sign of wonder that any individual's face expresses when some kind of educational experience "connects" with their personal growing needs. Working with (Wendy Jewell and Barry Kramer) has made this expression a common one."
Guillermo's Class Page

Lillian Liu from Taiwan: "It really gave them a sense of accomplishment when they saw their works published on [the] myhero.com website. I can still recall how they presented their works with pride. Through these works, they not only share with the world their heroes, but also leave something which they can reminisce about as they look back on their high school days."
Lillian's Class Page

Dadhiram Khanal, Principal from Kathmandu, Nepal: "Hari Om and Namaste. Participation in this project has broadened students' horizon[s] and knowledge. They have come to realize how important the computer is in today’s world for learning. Our school is in a rural area, where students had not even seen [a] computer, let alone use it. To participate in [a] project in computer and Internet has been [the] greatest achievement for students and our school."
Dadhiram's Class Page

My first written piece for MY HERO was to profile Ilse Bing , who at the time was 98 and had even more trouble understanding the Internet than I did. Even so, she loved seeing her story on the screen. And I deeply enjoyed telling it.

I've been writing stories for The MY HERO Project ever since- some pretty cool, innovative, caring, smart and fun people that are changing the world. Some you may have heard of, but most you probably have not:

My family and the MY HERO team have also shared some wonderful filmmaking opportunities:

Like the time we covered the Green Carpet at the NRDC (Natural Resources and Defense Council) fundraiser in Los Angeles. As a junior MY HERO Reporter, Slater spoke with many celebrity activists like Leonardo DiCaprio, .Larry and Laurie David, and Jack Black, who were in attendance to hear Robert Kennedy, Jr. speak about saving the human ecosystem.



Slater Meets Her Hero Jean-Michel Cousteau (myhero.com)


Our travels also took us to Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California, where Slater finally got a chance to meet her hero, Jean-Michel Cousteau, and get a firsthand look at his Ambassadors of the Environment Family Camp. Here, families learn about the ocean and how to live sustainably on the planet.

But perhaps my proudest moment was going to the United Nations Celebration of Earth Day in New York to watch Slater get an award for her environmental activism, much of which took place hand-in-hand with The MY HERO Project. Slater told me: "MY HERO has been such a wonderful experience for me. I've met some of my best friends and I've learned that we all really DO want global peace, a better environment, and a caring society. It gives me hope."

Being a producer and writer for The MY HERO Project has not just given me a sense of pride and purpose, but a community of friends I will always treasure. It has given me an opportunity to shine a light on global stories that remind us that we all live downstream from one another and that everyone can make a difference. I invite anyone reading this to share your hero story with the world. One thing we need right now is more good news stories to give us a laugh, a smile, a "wow - that's a good one."



Written by The MY HERO Project
Photos courtesy of Wendy Jewell, Slater Jewell-Kemker
Last changed on: 8/7/2016 3:35:19 PM

MY HERO Global Learning Circles Check out the elementary, middle, high school and CALL TO ACTION circle results from May 2016

An Inconvenient Youth Check out the place holder website for the documentary, AN INCONVENIENT YOUTH, the coming of age story set against the rise of the global youth climate movement and kids on the front lines of climate change.

Slater's MY HERO journey Mentorship is an important part of the MY HERO experience and Slater was fortunate to begin at a very young age.

AIY Cancun WINNER of TIFF kids 2011 short film section for all High School categories.

Wendy Jewell, a regular participant in the iEARN Learning Circles project, developed an idea to create a Learning Circle project devoted solely to writing stories, working with digital photography, and creating videos around the theme of My Hero...She has paved the way for teaching how classrooms of students can telecollaborate using the My Hero theme as a central topic to learn about each other, develop writing skills, and refine presentation skills.
Barry S. Kramer,
Coordinator
iEARN MY HERO Learning Circles

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