A doctoral candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies with a designated emphasis in New Media, Margaret Rhee is the recipient of an honorable mention for the 2013 Thomas I. Yamashita Prize which honors young social activists. She is receiving the honorable mention for her work with “From the Center,” and her curriculum for HIV/AID research project she developed along with fellow collaborators Isela Gonzalez, Kate Monico Klein, and Allyse Gray.
There will be an award ceremony and reception in honor of Roxanna Altholz, winner of the prize, and Margaret Rhee, honorable mention, on Wednesday, May 1 in the Lounge of the Women’s Faculty Club.
From the awards announcement:
Margaret Rhee is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Ethnic Studies (with a designated emphasis in New Media Studies) at the University of California at Berkeley. She co-leads (with Isela González) From the Center (FTC), a collaboration of health educators, academics, incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women who work in partnership to re-imagine education, research, and advocacy through the power of digital storytelling. After serving as project manager of the community-based participatory action research project “Jailed Women and HIV Education,” Margaret conceived of and developed a curriculum for FTC’s HIV/AIDS prevention education digital storytelling project, which provides incarcerated women with a creative venue through which to share their expertise and knowledge with academic and countless other communities. In the fall of 2010, Margaret co-led workshops in creative writing, HIV education, and digital storytelling. These workshops were held in the San Francisco county jail and provided incarcerated women with the opportunity to learn about HIV/AIDS and to use low-cost production technologies to create their own digital stories highlighting how their lives have been impacted by HIV/AIDS. These stories, in the form of short, narrated moving images or visual collages, serve as powerful educational tools inside and outside the jail setting, and demonstrate the importance of centering incarcerated women as advocates, researchers, and storytellers of their own lives and communities. Upon completion of the digital stories, the FTC participants asked that their stories be shared in academic settings, community settings and with anyone serving incarcerated and formerly incarcerated populations. Screenings of the FTC digital stories have been held in San Francisco jails for incarcerated women, Sheriff’s Department staff, Jail Health Services staff and other jail service providers. The Forensic AIDS Project (the first HIV service provider in a California jail/prison) continues to build on the FTC’s work by using the stories as educational tools with incarcerated populations, HIV prevention educators and academic partners. These stories are also accessible world-wide on the FTC website (ourstorysf.org). After viewing the stories there is a significant increase in HIV tests requested by prisoners. Incarcerated women who view these stories have expressed that FTC’s work has changed how they view educational institutions; they see the value in sharing their knowledge and expertise with academics.
The Thomas I. Yamashita Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding young social change activist in California. The award of $2,500 honors a person whose work transforms the existing social landscape – often in subtle and unappreciated ways – and serves as a bridge between the academy and the community. Honorees help to build the capacity of community-based organizations and social movements to confront pressing issues by applying her/his academic expertise. Simultaneously, she/he enriches academic scholarship by sharing the insights and knowledge produced from community engagement with the broader academic community.