Melissa Ludtke is the producer, writer and co-creator of Touching Home in China: in search of missing girlhoods, a transmedia storytelling and curriculum project. She is an award-winning journalist who has reported for Time, CBS News, and Sports Illustrated. She edited Nieman Reports at Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism for 13 years. To pursue writing in social and political justice issues, she was awarded academic fellowships from Harvard University, Radcliffe College, and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. In 2010 Melissa received the Yankee Quill Award for lifetime achievement as a journalist. Melissa made history while covering baseball as a reporter for Sports Illustrated. After Commissioner Bowie Kuhn denied her access to interview ballplayers in team locker rooms, Time Inc., the company that owned Sports Illustrated, filed a federal lawsuit (Ludtke v. Kuhn). The lawsuit claimed that Major League Baseball’s media policy provided unequal access to women reporters, thus violating her rights under the 14th Amendment by depriving her of the liberty to fully pursue a career in sports reporting. In September 1978 a federal judge agreed by establishing equal access to locker rooms for women reporters.
Touching Home in China (a transmedia project) (2017)
Touching Home in China: in search of missing girlhoods is a transmedia storytelling project about the journey “home” taken by two teenage adoptees who returned to China. The girls went back to the rural towns where each one had been abandoned as a newborn during China’s one-child policy era. Once there, the Americans spent time with Chinese girls their age whose families raised them as only-child daughters. The Chinese girls guided the Americans in learning what their lives might have been like if they’d grown up in 21st century rural China. Out of these girls’ encounters we widen the lens of our storytelling to explore more broadly the rapid-fire changes that have taken place in China during the girls’ lifetimes. And we explore topics related to multicultural America and personal identity.
We pair Open Source thematic lessons with our multimedia stories as well as with up-to-date resources for students. Our learning extends onto social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube – where daily we post current stories about issues and topics that our stories and curriculum speak to. In each lesson we spotlight four topics connected to the story and provide differentiated resources for varied levels of comprehension. We emphasize project-based learning and design it to be an immersive experience for digital native students. Topics we cover emerge out of the girls’ cross-cultural explorations and highlight what they learned from one another. Our topics include, but are not limited to, China’s population policies (one-child and two-child) and their consequences on families’ lives in China and on larger societal/demographic challenges; the role gender plays in the lives of contemporary Chinese people, both rural and urban; the influence of cultural values on learning and the rising exodus of Chinese students to study in the Unites States; the waves of immigration from China and migrant workers in China; and learning about identity and race in multicultural America.