Digital story project captures students' hopes, struggles and resilience

February 16, 2015

COREnduring negative race relations in high school. Living the realities of an undocumented immigrant. Feeling oppressed in a neighborhood where you're supposed to feel safe.

Discovering how to be successful. Overcoming stereotypes. Growing up.

Every story is important and deserves to be told. That is what Jim Winship, a UW-Whitewater social work professor, aimed to accomplish with the Digital Stories on Race and Ethnicity.

These personal stories are a part of the campus-wide Conversation on Race series and were created by students in August of 2014.

"The idea is that when we talk about race and ethnicity, we need to get experts on the topic. Those experts are our students," Winship said. "A great majority of students with these stories are students of color, so we decided to craft videos about their experiences."

Faculty and staff members from various offices and departments on campus nominated the students selected to create a project. The process lasted three days and the students worked all day -- and for some, throughout the night -- to complete their stories.

"There was an emphasis on asking students to write about something important to them," Winship said. "It wasn't an issue for the students to open up, so it was only a matter of communicating the story to someone else."

To further the process, Winship had the students work in story circles, where participants read drafts of their stories and received constructive feedback from the other students.

One of the best things about the process was watching these students interact and help one another, according to Winship.

"The rawness of the videos contributes to their power and impact. It's clear it's a personal story, not a professional telling a story," Winship said. "Students tell the stories like they want to tell it and I would encourage any student to find the courage to tell their story."

Winship is currently at the University of Cartagena in Colombia as a part of the Fulbright Program, where he is working with other faculty to provide a free course on identity.

While in Colombia, Winship will help students make digital storytelling projects as well, looking to create the same meaningful experience he did for students at UW-Whitewater.

A Diamond in the Rough

A foster mother as a buffer in an uncertain world, and the difficulties in growing up in a neighborhood where expectations were low.

Against All Odds

A story of racial stereotyping in high school, and the role of a professional mother in that difficult situation and as a life model.

Family/La Familia—My Story

The importance of family growing up and becoming an adult.

I Will Be Ready

An undocumented student’s story about succeeding in a country that does not yet fully accept her.


The impact of the Indian Child Welfare Act early in the story creator’s life and the importance of ethnic/tribal identity as a college student.

Love for Another Culture

An appreciation of student teaching in another country and culture, both the appreciation of the experience and the learning from it.

Overcoming Oppression

Growing up in a neighborhood with more dangers than supports, the journey of discovering strategies to resist societal oppression and thrive.

Playing for Keeps

Discovering how an African-American woman can be successful in a Fortune 500 company.

Taking a Chance

A story about coming from a working-class family where college was not seen as necessary, a first unsatisfactory try at college, and finding a sense of “home” after transferring.

The Generational Gap Between First Generation Hmong Children and their Parents

A personal story about generational divide and family.


Jeff Angileri

Sara Kuhl

Written by Jonathan Fera