News Decoder
Once ashamed, I’m now proud of my family’s Mexican roots.

Once ashamed, I’m now proud of my family’s Mexican roots.

My family came to the U.S. from Mexico. I used to be ashamed of our humble lifestyle. I offer these photos to show I’m now proud. This story won a third prize in News Decoder’s Ninth Storytelling Contest. Originally from Zapotitlan Palmas, a small town in...

Many students have much to say, but freeze when asked to put pen to paper. Asking them to first engage in other forms of self-reflection may make it easier to produce powerful written texts. Miriam Hernandez of Westover School demonstrates this point with her piece on growing up in the United States as a daughter of Mexican immigrants. Hernandez began with uncaptioned photographs of her family’s surroundings — a dinner table, a kitchen sink, a breeze through the front door — and later produced accompanying text — simple, direct, unvarnished — that complements the photos. Together, the pictures and text offer a candid glimpse of the author’s upbringing and how she came to terms with her heritage.
Exercise: Ask your students to take a series of photographs of life at home and to then write about what the images represent to them.

The Civil Rights Movement haunts us even today

The Civil Rights Movement haunts us even today

Inspired by Black Lives Matter protests, I offer a photo essay as a haunting reminder that the fight continues decades after the Civil Rights Movement. This story won a third prize in News Decoder’s Ninth Storytelling Contest. With my photography project, I...

The Black Lives Matter movement has stirred young people around the globe and raised hopes that racism and police brutality against Blacks can be curbed. For many elders, the hopes are tinged by nagging fears that a generation from now race relations will remain strained and injustices will persist. Lucy Bird, a 17-year-old student at Westover School, captures those worries in her haunting series of photos that juxtapose iconic images from the U.S. Civil Rights Movement with glimpses from BLM protests.
Exercise: Ask your students to apply their photo skills to create a visual essay that manipulates existing photographs to capture their concerns about the future.

Caught between China and the U.S., I feel both love and guilt

Caught between China and the U.S., I feel both love and guilt

Born in China, I decided to study in the U.S. I love my home country but harbor guilt as I become less and less Chinese over time. Photo by Markus Winkler This story was a runner-up in News Decoder’s Ninth Storytelling Contest. Artist’s Statement: I grew up in...

Growing up means eventually coming to terms with one’s upbringing. Doing so can be especially challenging for young people straddling different cultures. In a five-stanza poem, Li Keira Yin of The Thacher School explores the contradictions between the world of her Chinese grandparents and her life at a boarding school in the United States. News Decoder helps young people around the world extend their horizons and learn to appreciate different viewpoints. Some have the advantage of confronting opposing outlooks at an early age, and Yin demonstrates her maturity in reconciling the inherent antagonism between her two very distinct cultures.
Exercise: Ask each student to identify a fault line within their family and to write an essay or poem that is sympathetic to each side.

Contest winners