Thursday, April 06, 2006

Be a documentarian while you're abroad....

The REALIA project seeks proposals from students who are studying abroad to document aspects of their experience through digital media. Students involved in the project would take images based on specific topics and provide textual descriptions based on criteria set forth by the REALIA project. (No technical expertise or hardware is needed and selected students participate free of charge.)

Students in any major can work independently with professors already involved with the project or are encouraged to work with professors at their home institutions for academic credit.

Students studying in countries where the following languages are spoken are invited to submit project proposals. Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish.

About the REALIA Project
The REALIA Project is a nationally recognized, non commercial media project that serves a wide population of foreign language and culture instructors and learners. It recently has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to expand its collection. The collection focuses on digital realia, objects that convey the essence of a culture, such as pictures or sounds of everyday life.
To find out more visit

We invite students who study abroad to submit media in conjunction with an electronic portfolio project.

Possible projects include:
-Provide a visual overview of art, architecture and culture.
Choose a topic, period, or artistic style and document it through photos. Provide textual descriptions as to the cultural / historical / literary significance of that style. Students are encouraged to choose one major movement that can easily be documented or choose several sub topics that relate in some way.

-Detail Regional Specialties
Are you studying in a region that is famous for one particular reason or another? Provide a document of all the regional specialties such as customs, festivals, food, drink, or clothing. Provide an overview of several aspects of that region with detailed descriptions based on interviews with locals.

-Focus on the Unique
Highlight unique aspects of particular cultures. Students should document a wide variety or unique aspects of a particular culture within a given country. Descriptions of the media and should focus on the unique cultural aspects and detail the cultural significance to the target culture. This project is an ideal way to learn about the aspects of a culture that are not found elsewhere and become a subject expert..

Document living history
Use a series of images from your study abroad experience to demonstrate living history. Narrate the images using Realia Project to tie the images together in a particular context. Images can be of everyday life, events, demonstrations, political elections, people, customs, etc.

Collect historical materials
Become a visual archeologist and document images relating to history. Are you interested in a particular historical time or event? Take photos that relate to that event and provide the descriptions of the relevance of the images to that event. Students should have a clear outline of the images they wish to use and provide an overall scope and description to the project.

Pop and youth culture
What are the youth doing in the country in which you are studying? What does it all mean? Take photos relating to pop and youth culture while studying abroad and provide a context to each photo using Realia Project! Get into the mindset of the youth in the country where you will live, interview them, ask them what's cool, what's out, and what's coming. Document it all in fun, lively photos and share it with the world

The Impact of Technology on a Culture
In some countries, the old ways come face to face with the new ways and are in stark contrast. Are you studying in a culture where technology seems out of place or is affecting the culture on a daily basis? Tell the story through photos! Take pictures of the old vs. the new and provide text based descriptions using Realia Project

Literary Sourcing
Are you living where a famous novel took place? Read the novel, photograph the sites, and reference the text for a unique way to experience literature! Additionally, you can document places, architectural styles, dress, history that come from the text. Larger projects can examine one work; smaller projects can be combined to focus on an author.

Does this sound interesting? Send in a project proposal!

Project Proposals Should Include
Student Name
Faculty Sponsor at home institution
Target language collection(s)
Study Abroad Dates
Technical Needs
Project size (range from 50-200 images, but other sizes will be considered as well)
Project Outline

Send project proposals to with subject line: STUDY ABROAD PROJECT PROPOSAL. New project proposals are always accepted, but project proposals should ideally be submitted before departure on a study abroad program.

The REALIA Project provides:

-Editorial supervision by a panel of experts in the field.

-Secure login and digital media repository to edit your project.

-Technical Support

-Permanent server space and project housing.

Project Proposal Process:

Each project will be reviewed by the faculty chief editor responsible for the language collection. Projects selected for approval will be featured on the web site, listing the student and institution name and their complete collection will be available via single click! Participants will also receive recognition and a thank you letter from the National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (



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