From Wide-Eyed to Change Maker – My Journey Through What’s the Story?

Part 1:


In order to create change in What’s the Story?, you need to take responsibility. You need to prioritize, organize time, give and receive feedback, and know how to get appropriate help when needed.

Prioritizing wasn’t my strong suit in the beginning of the year; when I originally edited all the interviews, we had approximately an hour of footage that I thought was all equally important. When I finally put the entire documentary together, hours of meticulously cutting out more than three-fourths of the footage we had to just what seemed necessary for our story was required. I really learned what essential aspects are needed for telling a story. I had to organize my time and I, unfortunately, mostly learned about how to properly manage my time by spending upwards of five hours a day on the documentary every day for a week, as opposed to just spending an hour on it every day for a month.

Getting help and receiving feedback also has been difficult for me, as I often like to pretend like I have everything under control so I don’t bother people. However, through making the documentary, I learned that asking specific questions and looking for clear and concise feedback, can be really helpful in making our work the best it can be.

All these skills are transferable into the real world, and since there’s no such thing as perfect, I know I will continue to grow in these areas by making mistakes, learning how they affect my work, and improving next time.


Responsible and Involved Citizenship:

Working together, whether it be with your team or other people with similar or different opinions, is an essential part of making any type of change. Being understanding and empathic towards people who may not share your views is a hard thing to learn, but extremely important. Some people we talked to didn’t agree that sexism in society is as prevalent as we think it is, and through that, I learned how to appropriately and respectful disagree with someone’s opinion and have an educational conversation. Through these conversations, I had to learn how to clearly and concisely state my opinion in a respectful and open-minded way. I know in the future I will come across many people with many differing opinions and I know that I will not always understand why they think the way they do, but each time I will improve by learning from my mistakes.

Additionally, I had to be aware of how I interacted with my team and the impact I made. By needing to stay in contact with my group, I learned what some of my strengths and weaknesses are and how I can use that knowledge so I can work well with others. I will continuously improve by working with many different people and learn how to adapt and work with those who are very different from me.


Informed and Integrative Thinker:

Every story needs analysis and evidence from reliable sources. The analysis is organized into different sections of the story, that is required to create a documentary. After we completed our interviews, I had to analyze every aspect of the interviews and see how each of those fit inside our story. It required a large amount of thinking and learning. Originally, I did not have to do as much analysis in the beginning of the interview process because my group was more interested in that, so in the future, I will have to learn how I can start the process of analysis earlier.


Clear and Effective Communication:

In order to create the documentary, clear, concise, and order is required. I had to learn how to most effectively tell our story through hours of rearranging clips and listening to suggestions from those around me. Through constant editing and feedback, I learned how to display my work and research in a way that inspires others to learn and create change. No one, especially myself, will ever be perfect at effectively sending out a message to everyone because everyone has different preference and opinion, but by making more products through Smashing Sexism, I hope to continuously inspire people to create change.


Part 2:

I’ve never been good at being inspirational, but I suppose I’ll try. Nearly two years ago, I was just a wide-and-four-eyed, unusually tall eighth grader who thought it would be interesting to try this new course out. I had a fun time last year, and definitely met some people I’m still friends with, but I don’t think I got “the full What’s the Story? experience” of meeting and interacting with different students from around the state.

When I came back this year, I was really only friends with one person and I was shy and reluctant to meet new people. Even during the first retreat, I clung to my friend relentlessly. It was only when we all came together at the end of the day to play Anomia when I started to loosen up. I really enjoyed myself with these people I barely knew. We didn’t necessarily have a lot in common, but we were all young people who wanted to make a change.

The majority of us were all different ages from all around the state with all different backgrounds that I probably would never have spoken to otherwise. What’s the Story? allowed me to meet students who maybe I am not exactly like, but had similar beliefs and goals. I get opportunities to talk with people of all different genders and sexualities who are all passionate and intelligent.

I’m not sure when exactly I realized how incredible the community of friends I made is, maybe it was when we were all passionately arguing about who was a “one hit wonder” or when we were all sitting around the campfire singing the acoustic version of Toxic by Britney Spears at the top of our lungs, but I know that I am incredibly grateful for all the people here and what nice and incredible friends they’ve been.

As I’m sitting here, typing this, with Anna obsessing over our card game: What’s the Story? edition, Bryce trying to take creepshots of people, Nathan talking about how gay everything is, and Fiona doing everything but what she’s supposed to do, I realize that this community has helped me through so much.

Through What’s the Story?, I got to help inspire change, and I’m so I’m able to do that, but I am forever thankful that I got an opportunity to meet and work with the most incredible group of both students and adults I have ever met.

Emily Pecsok

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