Two students who are studying abroad in London have created an Instagram account this semester showcasing the lives of people throughout the city.
Sophomore public relations majors Hannah Wise and Emily Nicks started the Instagram account as a project for their multimedia storytelling class. The class is being taught by Dr. Jim Miller, associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication, who is also overseas at the Harding University England (HUE) program. According to Nicks, their assignment for the class was to create an Instagram account that was focused on some aspect of life in London. She said that some people chose to do food or sports, but she wanted to focus more on the stories of people living in the city. The account was inspired by the popular photo blog, Humans of New York.
“I love what Emily and Hannah are doing with the Lives of London account,” Miller said. “When we take time to understand someone’s story, we take a step toward making the world a better place.”
The account has featured 11 people so far, only two of whom are originally from England. Nicks said that even though they have to deliberately seek out interviews, everyone has been willing to talk.
“We still sometimes get a bit nervous when we ask someone to talk with us, waiting for a curt rejection, but that hasn’t happened whatsoever,” Nicks said. “Our eyes have been opened to the diversity of London.”
The class has turned this project into a competition, as students have planned to compare likes and followers at the end of the semester, according to Nicks. She said this challenged her to step out of her comfort zone and has already given her great practice in her field of study.
Both Wise and Nicks are always trying to come up with ways to engage more followers such as giveaways. They also use their own personal Instagram accounts to promote the Lives of London account. They both think it is important to keep their followers engaged and interested in what is going on in the account.
“We’ve had postcard giveaways, live video drawings; we try to include as many demographics as we can, and created an Instagram community around us that supports each other’s pages,” Wise said. “What originated as a class assignment has turned into a passion and desire to learn people’s stories.”