Tapestry of Faith: Families: A Jr. High School Youth Program that Explores the Diversity, Commonality, and Meaning of Families

Activity 2: Meet the Creators

Part of Families

Activity time: 40 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Personal identity objects
  • Digital cameras for class use
  • Paper and writing implements
  • Participant artifacts, including drawings, family trees, instant photos, and sketches/photos of church from participants' point of view (optional)
  • Newsprint and markers

Description of Activity

Introduce the activity and engage participants in discussion. Tell them that as part of their documentary work on families, they are going to document themselves and create an artifact for Meet the Creators, which will be part of the final photo-documentary project. Ask, "How have we already documented or represented ourselves?" They may remember instant photos, drawings of their families, their family trees, and their sketches/photo of church from their point of view. Share their artifacts with them informally. Use the following prompts to generate conversation as you see fit:
  • Why is it important to learn about ourselves when we are in the process of learning about others? List participants' ideas on newsprint.
  • How have your ideas about representation changed through the work on this project?
  • In what ways did the families you interviewed and photographed turn out to be the same as or different from what you expected?
  • What ethical issues, if any, did you encounter while creating the representations of the families?
  • As Unitarian Universalists, what ethical issues do we face when representing others?

You may say, "Learning ways to represent ourselves helps deepen our understanding of representing others." Invite youth to use photography and their personal identity objects to create a self-representation. Begin by having participants share with the group the objects they brought in and their significance. After everyone who wishes to share has done so, ask participants to write a quick sentence or two about each of their own objects. If participants do not have objects, they can write about three to five objects they would use to represent them.

Next, have participants work in pairs or small groups to photograph each other. Have cameras, paper, and pencils ready for participants to use. Encourage them to try different photo compositions: self, self with objects, objects only. What do these different compositions say? Afterward, have participants write briefly about the process of being photographed.

Gather as a group. Reflect on the photos and personal identity objects. Use the following prompts as you see fit:

  • What was working with personal identity objects like?
  • What was challenging about using objects?
  • Were there any mishaps or serendipitous moments?
  • How was this process different from or similar to the experience of photographing families?

Invite participants to share their writing. Ask them to consider whether they feel comfortable using these photos as part of Meet the Creators and, if not, problem-solve as a group.