Ask most Americans to point out Latvia on a map, and they may have a little trouble. Ask them what Latvian youth and American youth have in common, and they might be stumped.
The International Engagement Program at the National Constitution Center hopes to help answer those basic questions and more through its upcoming project: At the Table: Connecting Culture, Conversation and Service in Philadelphia and Riga (Latvia’s capital).
Made possible by an American Association of Museums (AAM) Museums & Community Collaborations Abroad (MCCA) grant and partnership with the National History Museum of Latvia, At the Table will connect high school students in Philadelphia and Riga while they explore factors that lead to active citizenship in their respective communities, culminating in two service projects and a collaborative documentary film about civic engagement.
Through oral histories, service projects and community dialogue, students will increase understanding across cultures, foster a sense of civic responsibility and inspire acts of civic engagement in two nations at vastly different stages of democracy.
American students from Philadelphia’s Constitution High School and Latvian students from five secondary schools in and around Riga will receive training in community-based research, the use of documentary equipment and basic documentary filmmaking. They also will be provided with digital video cameras and computer resources for digital film editing.
Through a series of “Sunday Suppers,” students will explore the civic experiences of at least three different communities in their home countries in order to shape two community service projects – one each in Philadelphia and Riga – that respond to a community need.
Every week, Constitution Daily will chronicle this experience by posting photos, videos, and pieces from various participants in the At the Table project. It is our hope that you will follow our students on this journey, and perhaps be inspired to start one of your own.
Sayeh Hormozi is the Senior Manager for International & Civic Engagement at the National Constitution Center.