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Documentary Storytelling Projects

Thetford, Vermont, USA

These seven films are the result of an interdisciplinary sense-of-place project. Using information from the 1900 census records and other primary sources, each of our students researched aspects of daily life for a student living in Thetford, Vermont at the turn of the previous century. Our students created historically viable accounts of the lives of their 1900s counterparts, paying particular attention to the use of natural resources. Each film is narrated from the perspective of those historical characters.

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

This project worked with 26 sophomores at East Mecklenburg High School to create 2-3 minute films describing their "message to the world".  The students are enrolled in ESL classes (English as Second Language), and have recently arrived from 14 countries including Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Venezuela, Eritrea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, Syria, Thailand and Vietnam.

San Diego, CA, USA

In partnership with Monarch School in San Diego, California, this annual project invites students to learn the basics of documentary storytelling and create their own stories using photography, video, audio recording and editing tools.  Most students chose to structure their stories around a day in their lives, while others chose the prompt "what would you like to say to the world?".  Their work will be exchanged with student work from across the Americas.

Beirut, Lebanon

Home of Hope is a non-profit organization which serves the misfortunate, abused, abandoned, and orphaned children in Beirut, Lebanon.  World Story Exchange partnered with Home of Hope for a two-week project focussed on offering the kids a fun and creative opportunity during their Christmas break from school. 

Eleuthera, The Bahamas

WSE supported Deep Creek Middle School's 7th grade during their School Without Walls program. For one week students had opportunities to learn about marine ecology from scientists at Cape Eleuthera Institute, to meet international high school students on campus at The Island School, to practice snorkeling and swimming, and to make a documentary story about their experiences. 

Lesvos, Greece

In collaboration with the International Refugee Committee, this six-day documentary storytelling workshop invited unaccompanied minors seeking refuge from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria to tell their story using photography, video, audio recording and drawing.  

North Dakota, USA

Youth water protectors created short media stories while living at Standing Rock as youth water protectors.  The students worked one-on-one with World Story Exchange instructors in partnership with the Defenders of the Water school on the banks of the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Native American reservation.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

This project invited students from Liger Learning Center, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to make photographic stories with audio narrations.  Students spent ten days creating multi-media stories about their daily lives at their school and their perspectives on global environmental issues.

Hartford, Vermont, USA

This project was developed through a partnership between World Story Exchange and CLASP (Creative Lives After School Program). The students learned photographic techniques and went on photo walks around White River Junction. Then the students made a selection of their photographs before writing and recording an audio narration.


Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, Mexico

This week-long documentary workshop was hosted by Juana de Asbaje Escuela Secundaria General in Brisas De Zicatela, a neighborhood of Puerto Escondido in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.  Twelve students created personal documentaries in spanish to be exchanged with spanish-speaking students in Vermont and California.

Carlsbad, CA, USA

A World Story Exchange screening at Tyler Court Senior Apartments led to this impromptu workshop, where senior citizens collaborated with WSE instructors to create stories about their lives and their community.

Koh Lipe, Thailand

This project invited students from Koh Lipe, Thailand, to create photographic stories with audio narrations.  Over the course of seven days the students studied the basics of photography and fulfilled a story assignment of their choosing.  The project culminated with a community screening of the student work.

Hartford, VT, USA

​Design students at the Hartford Area Career and Technology Center in Vermont participated in a project asking them to create photographic essays expressive of their place.


These projects will be shared with students in Yangon, Myanmar, who will then be invited to participate in a documentary photography workshop to tell and share their own stories.

White River Junction, VT, USA

A partnership between the Upper Valley Haven (a homeless shelter) and the Bugbee Senior Center in White River Junction, Vermont.  


Five young Haven guests (past and present) interviewed seniors about local places that have changed.  Next the students took photographs of those places.  Third, we investigated the photography archives at the Hartford Historical Society looking for pictures of how those places used to be.  A film was compiled combining the stories from the interviews, the modern photos, and the archival photos.

St. Johnsbury, VT, USA

A participatory documentary film made by adults with differing developmental abilities from St. Johnsbury, Vermont.  


Their film was shared with a group of adults with differing physical and developmental abilities in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  The two groups met each other through skype and asked/answered questions about their respective cultures.

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Salikenni, The Gambia

This workshop invited students from Salikenni's Upper Basic School to create documentary stories. Students learned basic photo and video skills, then signed out cameras to document self-determined values such as school, home, food, family, work, play, religion, and their hopes for the future. Next they wrote and recorded narrations, and finally worked with WSE instructors to edit their stories. 

Strafford, Vermont, USA

During a week-long summer camp at the Morrill Homestead in Strafford, VT, each camper embarked on a journey to make a short mixed-media documentary story featuring the life and history of Senator Justin Smith Morrill.  Campers toured Justin Morrill’s house, carriage barn, orchards, gardens, and ice house. They also visited Strafford’s Post Office, Historical Society, Town House, Cemetery and Morrill Memorial & Harris Library. 

Lombok, Indonesia

This series of projects involved four workshops, one to make drawings and three to make photographic stories with audio narrations expressing the students' sense of place - specifically their home, family, school and environment. 

Community Documentary Films

Bolinas, CA, USA

This annual project with Bolinas-Stinson Middle School offers 7th and 8th grade students the opportunity work together in production teams to make community-based documentaries. The films focus on global issues found locally, including: Globalization, Migration, Habitat Preservation, Climate Change, Water, Human Rights, Fuel, Standard of Living, Population Growth, Pollution, Healthcare and Food Supply.

Lebanon, NH, USA

This project is an annual collaboration between Lebanon Middle School teacher Brendan Armstrong and World Story Exchange.  For three weeks the entire 8th grade made short films reflecting one of LMS PRIDE core values: Leadership, Motivation, Spirit, Perseverance, Respect, Determination, Excellence.  This project has been annually supported by the LMS Parent Teacher Organization and The Byrne Foundation.

Bolinas, CA, USA

This annual project asks 6th, 7th and 8th graders at Bolinas-Stinson School to make short films about their lives.  Students focus their films on aspects of their lives they are proud of, a message for the world, or more broadly showing a day in their life.

Norwich, Vermont, USA

This project invited the entire 5th grade at Marion Cross School in Norwich, Vermont, USA, to create photographic stories with audio narrations.  World Story Exchange instructors worked in partnership with art teacher Caitlin Eastman to facilitate the one-week workshop.

Hartford, Vermont, USA

Biology students at Hartford High School in Vermont, USA were invited to feel the expansiveness of nature through a series of field trips.  The students were given the assignment to make a photographic story answering the question "What Does Nature Mean To Me?"

Point Reyes Station, CA, USA

In partnership with Tomales Bay Youth Center this project invited students to create a multi-media documentary on a topic of their choice.  Their stories will be exchanged with youth in Vermont.  Additional media stories include a documentary about the youth center, and a slide show about Dia de Los Muertos in Point Reyes Station.

Hartford, Vermont, USA

An ongoing series of documentary film workshops attended by students from the Design, Illustration and Media Arts program at the Hartford Area Career and Technology Center in Vermont.  


We created a "personal documentary" curriculum inviting students to make films exploring one thing in their lives that has had a profound impact on them.

Pomfret, VT and Duxbury, MA USA

1) A week-long multi-media storytelling workshop in cooperation with Artistree in Pomfret, Vermont. 2) A two-day photography workshop in cooperation with Crossroads For Kids in Duxbury, Massachusetts. 3) A week-long documentary film workshop in cooperation with the Duxbury Free Library in Duxbury, Massachusetts.

Sihanoukville, Cambodia

This project worked with students who attend the Let Us Create after-school arts program in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The students each made a photographic story about their lives to share with the World Story Exchange community.

Hanoi, Vietnam

This photography and writing workshop invited twelve Vietnamese students to explore their city with a camera and write descriptive captions to create a story.


In partnership with Alpha School and the community development organization Action For the City.  


Hartford, Vermont, USA

Freshman and sophomores at Hartford High School in Vermont produced multi-media documentary projects. Their assignment was to create a story using photographs, text and audio.


These stories will be shared with students in Indonesia, who will be invited to participate in a workshop to make their own documentary photography stories.

El Transito, Nicaragua and Woodstock, VT, USA

A documentary filmmaking workshop in El Transito, Nicaragua, yielded films that were exchanged with films made by juniors/seniors in advanced Spanish classes at Harwood and Woodstock Union High Schools in Vermont.


One of the films from El Transito addresses the issue of protecting the eggs of nesting sea turtles.  Now the community is rallying around the cause and has started a successful hatchery.

New York City and Brazil

An exchange of documentary films made by youth from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and the South Bronx, NYC.


Graduate students at The New School hosted a filmmaking class at Middle School 325 in the South Bronx, NYC. Simultaneously another group of graduate students ran a filmmaking workshop in Mare, Rio de Janeiro.

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