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Lockdown Live: bringing students together across continents

With the global pandemic transforming education and shifting education online, a new collaboration has seen a number of global students come together to talk about their experiences of living through the pandemic.

Lockdown Live, an online series that aimed to unite students remotely, brought together Sussex Writes, a community project which sends Sussex students into schools to work with pupils on creative projects and writing projects and The Youth Café – a pan-African NGO which has a mission to advance youth-led approaches on a number of global issues.

The result was a huge success, with students from Nigeria, the UK, Indonesia, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya, Cameroon, and Turkey all reflecting on the relationship between global and local perspectives whilst raising important ideas about and solutions to the crisis.

Dr Emma Newport, Lecturer in the School of English, who organised the link-up, said:

“The global pandemic has raised some troubling questions: how would it affect teaching and learning? How might it impact staff and students’ well-being, and the community more widely?

“So, keen to continue our work in some form, I contacted a former funding partner, Willice Onyango at the Youth Café to consider how we might create something meaningful and productive during the crisis.”

The result was something which could be used to bring together students thousands of miles apart, who’d all been affected by the pandemic in their localities.

“We devised a new online series which we named ‘Lockdown Live’. The aim of it was for our Sussex writes students to join with the Youth Café team to explore the impact of the pandemic on a wide range of issues, including what it is like to learn in lockdown, managing mental health and the immediate future of the global economy.

“This was a co-produced initiative, with students leading on social media and communications, agenda setting and chairing meetings: together, we radically dismantled classroom borders and eliminated typical pedagogical hierarchies.”

On top of this, the collaboration saw another strand come to life as a result of its success. ‘Ask an Expert’ invited leading experts in mental health, media literacy and the economy to be interviewed by the youth team.

“Our global youth team spoke to Ayo Sokale, a Black Lives Matter community activist and local Reading councillor; Sherri Hope Culver, the director of the Centre for Media Information Literacy; JJ Taboola, a South African investment expert; and Dr Lydia Turner, a psychological therapist at the University of Sussex.

“Their answers to the youth-set questions have provided an invaluable resource for the global community about these issues.”

To watch the recordings of these conversations, which form powerful autoethnographic accounts of life in lockdown in different countries, please visit our new Sussex Writes YouTube channel or visit our student-edited Sussex Writes blog.

For a closer look at the events from a student perspective, two blogs have been written by Sussex Writes team members, both of whom took some valuable lessons from participating in the events:

Jennifer Chinenye Emelife, a current Chevening scholar and director of Teach for Change Nigeria, writes about how Lockdown Live gave her a much-needed outlet: a reminder, in her words, that all isn’t hopeless.

Emily Bailey, a second-year English student in the School of English, explores how she was privileged to add her voice to the variety of experiences and to reflect on how Covid-19 has accelerated online learning in ways that have benefited students who struggle to access campus.





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By: Tom Walters
Last updated: Saturday, 1 August 2020

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