Digital storyteller and educator Matt Colaciello connects people and ideas across borders through film and photography, live performances, and collaborations with organizations and communities around the world.
When I was a teenager, I wanted to become an ethnographic filmmaker. A few years into college, I spent a year in Mali and realized I'd rather be with people, learn alongside them, than bring a camera into the picture. Ever since, I've been doing exactly that in West Africa, India, and Indonesia.
A decade later, I've returned to film, photography, and live performance to give human dimension to global social and environmental issues. Cross-cultural representation is no less complicated than when I was a student. But now I'm creating a platform to share the stories of people who have become my friends and colleagues—youth, activists, educators, scientists, and community leaders endeavoring to improve their communities and the world.
I earned my B.A. in Communications from Northwestern University where I studied media, performance, and human rights under my beloved advisor, Dr. Soyini Madison. During this time, I spent a year in the West African nation of Mali to train alongside the members of Troupe Don, a performance company that uses music, dance, and theater as tools for human rights and public health education.
In 2008, I went to India for the first time to study Buddhism in a monastery in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, the place of the Buddha's enlightenment. This was the first of my five years living in India and the beginning of my love for South Asian philosophy, history, languages, and cultures.
In 2010, I was awarded the Global Engagement Fellowship from the Buffett Institute for Global Studies. This sent me back to India to spend a year working for the Navdanya Foundation, a grassroots NGO headed by environmental activist, Dr. Vandana Shiva. While working in New Delhi, I had the opportunity to collaborate with India's newest generation of change makers as well as veteran social justice leaders such as anti-corruption lawyer Prashant Bhushan. During this time, I co-organized a three-day conference that drew hundreds of participants and all of India’s major media outlets. The conference played a major role in shifting public opinion—and ultimately policy—to end Operation Green Hunt, a government campaign that was terrorizing central India’s indigenous communities.
From 2011 to 2015, I led study abroad courses in India and Indonesia for a company called Where There Be Dragons. During this time, I collaborated with scholars, conservationists, activists, and local communities to create and implement social and environmental justice curricula. I learned the nuts and bolts of connecting students and community members across cultures, ecosystems, and economic realities.
In November 2015, after eight years abroad, I returned to the U.S. to create The Global Workshop. It's my platform to inspire compassionate, critically-engaged global citizenship through multimedia storytelling, citizen journalism, and participatory workshops.
Banner photo: Matt free diving in Wakatobi National Park, Indonesia. Credit: Liz Magee.