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Global Festival of Action with Ulla Lohmann

In early May 2019 the United Nations held its Global Festival of Action in Bonn, Germany, to encourage its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to celebrate the progress that has been made. As part of this festival, Canon sponsored a multi-day visual storytelling workshop through its Young People Programme. The workshop was led by Canon ambassador and f-stop ICON Ulla Lohmann. We learned more about the workshop from Emma Hope, Sustainability Manager at Canon, and Ulla.

 

How did you learn about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and its Global Festival of Action? What inspired you to get involved?

 

Ulla – I was inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals when I was studying natural resource development in Australia. I was excited when Canon asked me to help teach visual storytelling to participants of the UN’s Global Festival of Action. For 2018, and again this year, we decided to involve Canon’s Young People Programme in the visual storytelling workshop. 

 

What was your role, and did you have a goal before you started?

 

Ulla – My role in the workshop was to help the students improve their visual storytelling skills and to inspire them to continue creating stories after the workshop ended. Our goal was to produce a body of work that would tell stories of sustainable development through the eyes of a younger generation.

 

How many students were there and how did they get involved?

 

Ulla and Emma – The students were previous participants of Canon’s Young People Programme. All five of them were high school students from Germany and Belgium whom we had already worked with in 2017, 2018, and 2019. When possible, we try to provide follow-up opportunities like this to the participants, as the programme’s focus is to provide quality education and to help the generation of tomorrow harness the power of positive visual storytelling to drive change.

 

Where did this event take place? What did you and the participants work on? What equipment did the students use?

 

Ulla – The Global Festival of Action took place at the Bundestag in Bonn, Germany. This is a historical location for me, as I remember watching parliamentary sessions there when I was a child. The students worked in three groups to tell their stories in three methods. One group worked on a video, the second group worked on Instagram, and the third group worked with still images, in the manner of photo reportage. Canon donated cameras for the students to use and f-stop donated camera bags.

 

 

Did you and the participants face any challenges? If so, how did you all overcome those challenges?

 

Ulla – The biggest challenge was the short amount of time we had to complete and present the projects. We had to do the training, briefing, gather material for the stories, edit them, and deliver them during the festival, which was May 2-4. In the end, we managed to do all of that. The students were successful. I was very proud of them.  

 

In what ways did the students learn and grow through this experience?

 

Ulla – The students already had a good idea of how a picture can tell a story. During this workshop they were able to practice what they already knew and use the new skills they learned during the workshop. They also got to work with other people their age to tell stories about issues they care about.

 

What did you learn from the students? How did the students inspire you?

 

Ulla – The students are really enthusiastic about making the world better. It was really infectious. They are very curious about the world around them and they were always asking why things are the way they are and how they can be better. I am grateful that my job allows me to be curious, ask questions, and be enthusiastic. The students reminded me how important this is. I hope the workshop we did together helps them realize that they can become storytellers in their own ways. It is all about inspiring each other.

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