In a powerful short documentary entitled The World Is As Big Or As Small As You Make It, students from inner-city Philadelphia give the term "pen pals" a whole new meaning.
The short is based on the "Do Remember Me" project, an initiative founded by Sannii Crespina-Flores that gives students a chance to connect with kids their own age around the globe. The documentary, which was made possible by a grant from the Sundance Institute and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of their Short Film Challenge, was directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady.
As you'll see, this documentary sparks a global conversation. Students aged 12-15 use their smart phones and iPads to start international friendships with kids just like them in various corners of the world. They ask questions over Skype and gain insight into each other's lives and neighborhoods. But what they really learn is that they have more in common than they thought.
"There's something incredible about a girl who lives in the mountains of Kazakhstan and a boy who lives in North Philly being able to move each other," Grady told A+.
Grady wasn't surprised that racism found its way into the dialogue, but appreciated the fact that the kids had a unique way to approach it.
"We have the ability to have very simple but meaningful exchanges using the technology that almost everybody has in their pocket," Grady said. "So we should look at our gadgets and our toys as something more than that. They're little tunnels and little pathways to making the world smaller and smaller."