Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Surviving the Liberian Civil War – A Personal Story

Oklahoma teacher Caroline Barchue created the 3.5 minute video, “Surviving the Liberian Civil War,” as her “teacher B-side” video project this week during the Oklahoma Creativity Institute. Take a few minutes to listen to her story. It puts a lot in perspective, including the FEARS we may have as teachers about learning to teach with technology.

Find more videos like this on Oklahoma Creativity Institute 2010

The idea of a “teacher B-side movie” originates (as far as I know) with Marco Torres, who has helped many teachers create these kinds of videos in his work for Apple and as a professional educator. A “B-side movie” shows something about a teacher that peers and students may not know already. Others are most familiar with the professional, “A-side” of our personality as teachers. The A-side is the teacher/educator side. The B-side includes our hobbies, our passions, our past experiences outside of education, and gives insights into our personal lives. Creating and sharing B-side videos can be a very engaging process for educators, and can also be beneficial as we allow our peers and students to get to know us better. On our Creativity Institute Ning, you can view many other examples of “teacher B-side” videos. Tammy Parks, with whom I co-facilitated the Creativity Institute this week, suggested we use “teacher B-side movies” as our primary participant projects for our 3+ day workshop. That suggestion turned out to be FANTASTIC. I don’t think any of the organizer team for the institute was completely prepared for the quality, variety, and power of the B-side stories which our teachers shared.

On a technical note, Caroline created this short video using an unedited recording she made with a Sony ICD PX820 digital voice recorder and the Windows version of Picassa. (Picassa is free photo editing and organizing software from Google which also has a simple moviemaking capability.) One of Caroline’s children emailed her the photos she used this morning, and she combined them with her audio track this morning during our Institute work time, using Picassa.

One of the greatest professional joys I experience these days is helping empower individuals, like Caroline, to share their stories. What a powerful tale it is, and online you can only hear part of it. She shared much more “backstory” to this with our Institute participants in our closing celebration, and received a standing ovation from everyone in attendance after sharing her video.

It’s a wonderful thing to not only be a storychaser, but more importantly LISTEN to the voices of others who are also storychasers. If you or your students want a bit more background about the events Caroline discusses in this video, read the WikiPedia article for the “Second Liberian Civil War.” Before sharing her video, Caroline shared an African saying:

When two elephants fight, the grass suffers.

That has certainly been the case, historically, in Liberia.

Let us all count our blessings this day, and give thanks for the lives of Caroline and her four children who survived the Liberian civil war, have thrived after moving to the United States, and work today with the dream of one day returning to their war-torn nation to help rebuild it alongside others. Caroline’s dream is to return to Liberia and build a school. I hope in some way, her ability to share her story and those of others online will assist in the realization of that dream.

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One response to “Surviving the Liberian Civil War – A Personal Story”

  1. Christopher Cooper Avatar
    Christopher Cooper


    This is really an engaging video–probably because Ms. Barchue’s deeply personal connection to the topic. Thanks for sharing this. A passionate “teacher B-side” might be a fantastic way to introduce students to these tools to create their own “student B-sides” and perhaps as an alternate assessment. As a high school English teacher, I’m always looking for new ways to engage my students and to incorporate new technologies, and something personal like this could really motivate them!