All posts by Jennifer Houston

One Less

Tonight was interesting.  I had left class early to go to Emergency Room to volunteer.  It was not like something out of the ordinary happened, but it is tonight I handled the experience of the emergency room differently.  That is why it was quite interesting to me. Tonight, I actually stood up for what I believed in and didn’t allow other people to degrade another human being.  It was priceless as the looks on the other people’s faces were worth a thousand words.   I think at one instant they wanted to call me crazy and the next instant I think they might have understood my point just a little bit.  The past two weeks spent in the Dominican Republic I had meet people who are grateful for mostly everything they have and yet members of their own country and other parts of the world are constantly degrading them.  I realize I am missing a big part of the D.R.’s story by not being able to speak their language but I believe I have an idea of their story.  Tonight I tried speaking about it, except I don’t know how far it got me.  At least I tried.  For months I have experienced people who sit back in the emergency room and don’t believe some human beings have the same level of dignity as they do. Tonight, I tried fixing that or at least I tried to.   (I’m sorry for anyone who is confused however with all of the HIPAA regulations I have to leave my night pretty vague.)  I realize we are thousands of miles away from the Dominican Republic and one Midwestern girl’s voice is not going to impact them from here in Nebraska.  However, I stood up for someone tonight.  There was one less person in this world who was degraded by others, maybe it only lasted for a few seconds.   But all I can do is try. 

Ready to Return

The culture shock has finally hit me.  The past two weeks my group and I have been the center of attention by the Dominicans and after returning to the states we are just another group of people in the world.  It is quite crazy to think about.  In the Dominican Republic we were guests to many and it felt as if most Dominicans would have done anything for us.  While in Cien Fuegos men and women took time out of their day to take us on a tour of their town.  The filming of Pedro amazed me not only in his work with his Church and his community, but this man’s hospitality to our group within his town.  The first day of our interviews we had found out that Pedro’s mother had recently passed away.  Yet, he still went through with the plans of filming the documentary.  Pedro took it upon his self to show us many different parts of Cien Fuegos and then went through with two interviews. 

The next part of our adventure in Dominican Republic fell nowhere near short of being remarkable.  The campo showed us just how much more generous the people of the Dominican Republic are.  By the end of the trip these people did more than make us their guests, they made us their family.  In the campo, Raquel’s and my family would make us a daily coffee in the morning.  While in the afternoon our madre would bring us a new fruit to try.  The family went out of their way to compensate our limited Spanish speaking abilities with activities that didn’t involve too much Spanish, well most of the time.  Still, even with the language barrier I believe we communicated pretty well.  I can’t wait to return again to the island, this time with more goodies for the kids and a better ability to speak their language!

My Second Family

The Dominican Republic is amazing. We just finished our three day stay at a campo and I want to go back. The first week we filmed in the city and I felt such emotion for those children, but now I realize after living with a family that they are far luckier than me. First off they wake up to beautiful scenery every morning.  It’s magnificent.  The campo we stayed in was on the slope of a mountain that over looked the ocean.  Second, the families seem not to take anything for granted.  They spend their time together and with friends playing dominos, dancing, and eating.  My family was always laughing and smiling; no one ever seemed to be angry.  Dominicans spend time in the moment, instead of living with electronics constantly beeping.  I’m starting to enjoy “Dominican Time” now.  Third, these people have an unlimited amount of fruit.  Mangos, pineapple, water apples, you name it and they probably can find it. How lucky are they to be able to go outside and pick what you want to snack on!  Fourth, they work for what they have and deserve it.  We spent the last couple of days helping pour cement into houses and the men that helped us were crazy strong.  Sweat would be dripping off of their face and never stopped to wipe it off.  They put us Americans to shame with how talented they are. 

Unfortunately, my time here in the Dominican Republic is almost done.  I want to thank the lovely family who housed me and Raquel.  This family already has ten kids but offered to take in two more.  All I can say, I feel privileged to have meet them. 

Amazing People

Today we went to Cien Fuegos to film again.  We had an amazing day!  It started off with the arriving at 9:45, instead of 9:00.  (We are on Dominican time thats for sure!)  Pedro gave us another tour of the city and every shoot B Roll.  All of the children are friendly and once they know your name, they seem to repeat it every ten seconds.  The children are also very helpful with taking pictures and videos.  It was adorable.  At the end of the tour Pedro showed us the dump and right next to it was a school.  How could anybody put a children’s school hundreds of feet from a dump? 

As we continued to walk I saw two boys playing in a truck that had no wheels, no doors, and broken glass everywhere.  I found it amazing how these children and others run around Cien Fuegos by themselves.  Then, we went to the church and soup kitchen where Pedro spoke again about the enviroment and the church.  This man is incredible.  He has dedicated most of his life this city and not only has he done that but he has made such a huge difference in this town and the people of the town.  If I take anything from this trip it will be that the Church is an amazing place and it has the power to do anything the people of the Church sets it mind to. 

We have finished most of the shooting that we need to do, except for a few more B Roll shoots that we will finish up during the rest of the trip.  I am excited for the next week and hope that the time doesn’t fly too fast! 

We have Arrived..

This morning at three o’ clock we arrived at the ILAC center (even though we were supposed to have been there at ten o’ clock!)  The towns were quite dark as we were driving through them so it was hard to make out what we had in store for us in the following weeks.  We found out this morning.  I have seen hundreds of pictures of the DR, but being here in person is a completely different story.  Not only do your eyes experience it, so do your ears, nose, and the whole rest of your body.  The DR has a distinct smell, but I can’t describe it at all.  Also, it is so much louder then I ever thought it would be.  People are constantly honking at someone else and people love to blare their speakers within their vehicle.  The one thing that I still can’t get over is the humidity! It was quite pointless to try and do anything to yourself besides pull your hair up into a ponytail and throw on jeans and a tee. By noon everyone was soaked with sweat.  Second of all, I’m not quite for sure where the mosquitoes are hiding but they should stay where ever they are.  I have seen a total of two. Third, I can’t believe the houses.  Some are falling apart; pictures I have seen have not done justice to the conditions of some of the houses I have seen so far.  I find it amazing how people still work and try to provide for their families even though they live in horrible conditions. 

I’ve been here less than twenty-four and have seen limited parts of the DR yet I feel like many of the material things I have in my life I have not earned and not quite for sure if I deserve them.  This trip will be very interesting with how everything turns out.    

Ready, Set, Here We Go!

I began packing tonight and it has hit me.  I will be leaving Omaha to fly over the ocean into the Dominican Republic!  How crazy is that?  Plus, I have no idea what to bring for clothes.   Just so you guys know I am the best at over packing for trips.  Normally, for a weekend cattle show I would have a huge duffel bag of clothes plus another bag that contains hair supplies and shower stuff.  I can’t bring that much to the Dominican Republic, that would be outrageous.  These people live in severe poverty and I care about what I look like.  I’m hoping this trip will help me refocus my sense of gravity and help me have a better outlook on life.  Actually, I know it will.  Every person who has been fortunate enough to go to the DR has talked about how life changing the trip has been.  What I am looking forward to is how the Dominicans change my life.  Every person’s story is different.  Amongst the reading for class I have been trying to read a book called In the Time of the Butterflies, recommended by Dr. Hurley a surgeon in St. Louis who has four children that have or are attending Creighton. The book so far is about a family and how it has to deal with the new leadership of the DR.  I know only one girl remains out of the three sisters(the other two were killed by the government officials I believe) and Dr. Hurley was able to meet the surviving sister.  From our conversation a few weeks ago that seemed to be one of his favorite experiences so far. 

I just need to sit back and let the grace of God pull me in the direction he wants me to go.  I believe if I let that happen, I will have an AMAZING trip!  

http://www.amazon.com/Time-Butterflies-Julia-Alvarez/dp/0452274427

The Process of Uncovering a Life That Has Been Untold

I believe so far the most imporant thing I have learned is how to run the camera.  I was so clueless before we started this class! So it is definitely good that Tim taught us that, plus its just alittle bit important for the mere fact we are in a journalism class that is shooting a documentary.  The trip to the DR is to illistrate this point of view of a man that has done wonderful things for the Domincan Republic, yet has been over looked for years.  For the piece to be as exceptional as I believe it will be, it was important to learn the basics of how to run the video camera. Its more complicated than I would have ever expected and granted, not everything will/can be taught in two weeks that needs to be taught.  In the last week though, I have learned about so many techy terms, video angles, and sound tips that I never knew existed.  Its pretty scary when I watch T.V. and can point out what they did wrong or right.  I believe with the basic knowledge of video that we have and will gain plus lots of passion, it will be amazing how far the skills will take this project.  In the end, not only do we want to represent Creighton well, we want to represent Pedro and the Dominican Republic to the best of our abilities.  This man is incredible.  (Our film will tell you all about him, just wait!) 

Let’s Go Racing!

Tuesday afternoon let me embark on my first true, some-what correct film making experience.  That day I loaded up my car with my tripod and backpack to head to the Reetz family residence.  Here, I emptied my bag to set up my camera with the needed tools while my own best friend laughed at me!  Without too much of a hesitation I explained the needed shots: close ups, medium shots, wide shots, over the shoulder shots, and the establishing shots.  One again, she laughed.  From here Joe wheeled his go-kart to their track and we got started.  It took me a few minutes, plus or minus a few, to figure out how to angle the camera to get some still shots.  It was somewhat awkward at first, hence the fact the track slanted downward towards the center of the track.  In never imaged I needed to practice getting different angles of the film on different types of surfaces, but I did.  I guess in life not every part of the ground is flat.  The next problem I faced, the hundred and eighty degree rule!  That was the most difficult.  When I wanted a shot of the tires or track I keep trying to draw imaginary lines and tried not to cross them.   In the process I took some close of shots that I absolutely loved and I couldn’t use them in the video.  At first I felt like I needed to use every great shot I got, it didn’t quite work that way though.  I learned that the shot might look amazing with the lighting and angle, but if you don’t have a place in the video that it’s going to look right, it’s quite pointless to include it in the edit of the film.   I’m still working on the clip, but I hope to be able to show it in the near future!  I wish to thank Joe and Ashley for being patient with my lack of video skills, I believe the video will turn out great!   

My True Confessions about Writing

I will be the first person to admit that writing, it’s not quite my thing.  One may ask then, why spend five weeks of your summer in a class about journalism?  Well, I wanted to travel and after hearing about many Creighton students who loved the Dominican Republic, I was convinced that I wanted to travel there.   One of the numerous trips to the DR that Creighton University offers is the Backpacking Journalism class, and it had become know to me through a flyer in my dorm.  I emailed Dr. Zuegner on Friday afternoon, and by Monday I was filling out paperwork to begin the long process of preparing to travel overseas.  Now that I have paid my dues, updated all my shots, and bought my first passport, it is time for the class work to begin!  The class work consists of reading, writing, and filming.  I believe the most challenging part of the class will be allowing other peers to see my work that I complete.  (This blog is the first step to overcoming that fear!) I have never consider myself that good at the writing process and seem to always question whether I have written a good paper or not.  Maybe if I improved my writing process I would end up with a better paper.  My process ussually consists of writing partial ideas down on a scrap paper and refering to them at a later date.  I find this better for my style of writing, it allows for more room flexiblity while writing instead of a formal outline.  After the paper is completely written, I proof read my paper.  After that I have a friend proofread my paper.  A place I found very helpful was the writing center and I learned that Fr. K loved when his students would take the time and effort to get the extra help.  This past semester in Fr. K’s class he asked us to write six papers and each paper was completely different than the previous paper.  These papers challenged not only my brainstorming skills and writing skills, but taught me how to accept criticism.  I am very thankful that I had him as my professor and now I am very excited to better my writing skills in the next four and a half weeks with Dr. Zuegner!