Teen Intern Spotlight: Nia Gates

12th grader Nia Gates has been interning at Big Class for the 2015-2016 school year. We asked her to write about one of her favorite experiences of her internship, and she wrote about the "Code Your Story Workshop." Read about her experience:

Nia works with a student during "Code Your Story."

Nia works with a student during "Code Your Story."

In December of 2015, I joined Big Class as a part of its Youth Advisory Council. From there, I began to meet amazing artists, be shown new opportunities, and was able to hone my skills in many things, even beyond poetry and photography. Being an intern for Big Class was an entirely new and different experience for me. My position with Big Class became about working behind the scenes: instead of being just an addition to the book, you become a creator, a publisher, a promoter and far more.

One of my favorite opportunities as an intern was working with middle school students from Sylvanie Williams School. Big Class collaborated with Cartoon Network to bring a workshop called “Code Your Story” to the school. It was a 3-day workshop and within the first two days I was able to watch these young minds express themselves through creating stories in which they got to animate.  

Being able to watch the ideas sprout from the students, watching them explore and beginning to learn and understand the website all to bring together their own stories was breathtaking. The classes of  “Code Your Story" began with the students sitting with a Big Class instructor and  collectively creating a protagonist to then turn around and create their own. After the development, students took their ideas to Scratch where they began to animate their protagonist and create a new story around them. The second day they created an antagonist and a storyline to follow between when animating their heroine and villain.

Seeing their minds in motion, showed me that what I do at Big Class has true worth. Giving youth the opportunity to express themselves as well as the tools to find new things they may enjoy or new opportunities they can create for themselves.

Being a part of the Big Class gives me the chance to be a bigger part of my community. It has set me on a clearer path for my future in education and nonprofit work.