Pulitzer Center Update

MacFarland Students Join the Out of Eden Walk in Their Neighborhood

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

One student presents her final caption for a photo from the Petworth neighborhood. Image by Hannah Berk. United States 2017.

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Students explore images from Paul Salopek's Out of Eden Walk. Image by Hannah Berk. United States 2017.

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Pulitzer Center Education Intern Hannah Berk models close observation of a photo with MacFarland students. Image by Brieanna Iyomahan. United States 2017.

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Students explore images from Paul Salopek's Out of Eden Walk. Image by Hannah Berk. United States 2017.

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Photojournalist Allison Shelley helps students develop their observation and caption-writing skills. Image by Hannah Berk. United States 2017.

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

A student shares the story she thinks one of Allison Shelley's photos is telling. Image by Hannah Berk. United States 2017.

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Senior Education Manager Fareed Mostoufi guides students in exploring slow journalism and visual literacy skills. Image by Hannah Berk. United States 2017.

After two days of studying photographs of far-off places published in outlets like National Geographic, 6th graders at MacFarland Middle School in Washington, DC got a glimpse of the final photos they were entrusted with captioning and shouted out, “That’s where I live!”

The Pulitzer Center led a two-day, bilingual "Walk Like a Journalist" workshop with three Spanish-language world history classes at the Petworth neighborhood school in September, introducing over 60 students to journalism concepts, close observation skills, and storytelling through caption-writing. The workshop was adapted for MacFarland to support the "Thinking Like a Geographer" unit, which is required by DC Public Schools for all 6th grade social studies classes.

On the first day of the workshop, students learned about the Out of Eden Walk, Paul Salopek’s journalistic journey from Ethiopia to Tierra del Fuego on foot. They used his reporting milestones to practice the See, Think, Wonder approach to visual literacy. For their second day, photojournalist Allison Shelley visited to present her work on the aftermath of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake and demonstrate how writing a strong caption can better contextualize a photo. Finally, under the guidance of Shelley and Pulitzer Center education team staff, students worked together to create captions of photos taken on a walk through their own school’s neighborhood. They applied their journalistic skills to not only describe the pictures, but also to add information that people from other districts, cities, or countries might not know about their community from simply viewing the pictures.

Ultimately, the students' work represents a holistic view of their neighborhood: many photos contain both trash on the streets and green grass growing, or graffiti that could be described as a problem or artwork, depending on the student's perspective. Therefore, their images and captions contribute to the same mission underlying the globetrotting Out of Eden Walk. While Salopek practices slow journalism to tell the underreported stories of everyday life along the path human ancestors walked during the Stone Age, students in DC are slowing down to notice the details of their everyday lives and create an accurate depiction of the communities they call home for people the world over.

Captions for the photos below have been assembled by the Pulitzer Center staff from the collective written observations of the classes. Portions of student writing have been translated from the original Spanish.

Want to "Walk Like a Journalist" with your students? Contact education@pulitzercenter.org to set up a visit or for more information about available educational resources.

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Petworth, Washington DC. September 7, 2017.

I see trash and a street and cars. A sidewalk shaped like a star. Paint on the sidewalk. There are two dirty mattresses. Black graffiti. I see that people are spray painting the side of people’s homes. It feels artistic. Graffiti is common close to school property. I wonder if they got inspired by another graffiti. This picture makes me feel bad because there are not many people walking in this street. When I walked last week, I saw people eating and talking in restaurants. People go to the library and hang out by Slim’s diner. Image by Katherine Felter. United States 2017.

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Petworth, Washington DC. September 7, 2017.

A green, green bush. A black bench. There are cigarettes on the bench and trash in the bushes. A box of cigarettes, a small white blue box. Why is it there? Why do people leave trash everywhere in the city? That is very common in some streets and sometimes people help pick up trash in the streets. I see the earth. It’s loud and has traffic. Image by Katherine Felter. United States 2017.

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Petworth, Washington DC. September 7, 2017.

Some graffiti that you can see a lot in this neighborhood. The paint is yellow, green, purple, and many colors. The paint is peeling off the wall. The wall is chipped. Painted wall. Broken wall. Hill. Red brick. A pipe for when it rains too much. Some grass that is kind of scattered about the sidewalk. In this picture, you might not see anyone, but a lot of people use this path. Image by Katherine Felter. United States 2017.

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Petworth, Washington DC. September 7, 2017.

This is up the street and right next to the corner store. Close to it is a Pizza Hut, a library, and a few restaurants. I see shadows. Two blue dumpsters in front of a rusty gate. While I passed by I saw graffiti colored yellow, white, and tan. It looked creative. I think the person who did this was mad at someone or something. This makes me wonder, how could no one stop this and did these people get caught? The neighborhood where our school is is full of graffiti. Image by Katherine Felter. United States 2017.

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Petworth, Washington DC. September 7, 2017.

An alley where kids play and cars pass by often. Let me tell you something. What I see is trash on the sidewalk: water bottles, gummies, a bag of cookies. A big mess. Unhealthy grass. Dirty, dusty, and probably lonely. I wonder why people don’t pick up the trash. I feel bad because that does a lot of damage to the environment. For me, trash in the streets isn’t common. If a person comes from a country where there is no trash, they will decide that people don’t respect the environment or other people. Image by Katherine Felter. United States, 2017.

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Petworth, Washington DC. September 7, 2017.

This graffiti is in Washington DC on a clothes and shoes donation on Iowa Avenue, which is by the library and middle school. It’s ugly and the graffiti is blue and black. I see cars. I see wheels. I see trees. Parking lots and branches. A person. Crosswalks. A cigarette in the dirt. I feel happy because there isn’t much violence here. Image by Katherine Felter. United States 2017.

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Walk Like a Journalist Macfarland

Petworth, Washington DC. September 7, 2017.

A garage in the driveway of a house. The garage looks really old and dirty. The drawing someone painted with a spray can. I see eyes, a mouth, and a roof—the illuminati. It is behind the house and the house is made of brick. A green tree and bushes. There’s trash all over. Names written on walls. No one in the driveway. This is in an alley in my neighborhood and people bully here. Image by Katherine Felter. United States 2017.