Wow, we shot a lot of footage in the Dominican Republic.
And it takes a long time to edit, translate, map out the story, figure out narration and on and on and on…
In the DR, we had the luxury of being present, in that moment. We didn’t have the rest of life. We all have work. Life. Friends. Family.
It’s a testament to the drive and motivation of our students that they’ve been putting in the long hours to ingest, choose, edit video. Figure out audio. Rachel Bloom has come on board as a translator for us. Tim is coordinating everything.
I miss the focus we had in the DR. Life is always a trade-off, and I have my dog, my friends, my family around. Air conditioning. Diet Pepsi. A perhaps too-comfortable life.
But maybe I am meant to be unsettled. To see what I can do without, to learn that lesson of being present, in the moment, fully engaged in the place and the people.
I need a rocking chair.
Back in the U.S. of A for almost a week now and I’m still not finding myself any closer to closing the distance I feel between myself and the world. I told myself when I left for this trip that I would do everything I could to be fully present in the experience, appreciating every minute of Santiago, Cien Fuegos, Dajabon and Majagual. And yet I struggled nearly every day, feeling as if I was not actually in any of those places but watching a documentary about it, making it less real and frankly easier to deal with emotionally.
After getting back from a ridiculous day of travel filled with a comedy of errors last Friday, I felt like a walking zombie of sorts, meandering around campus consumed by my thoughts. I walked up and down the mall, tired yet extremely antsy from sitting all day after being in constant motion for almost two weeks. More than anything however, I wanted to run, because even if it’s on a treadmill, when I run I feel like I’m getting somewhere, my body coming alive as I push it beyond the threshold of comfort.
I’ve found running to be my outlet for almost anything thats troubling me, and I happened to see a New Balance Ad the other day that stated it perfectly. “Sometimes we run not to get away from the world, but to clear our heads of it.” Ever since getting back last Friday I’ve been struggling to process all the things we saw on our trip. I am constantly reminded of the people, their live, and the things they can’t run from like I so wanted to do.
I’ve realized now however that it wasn’t that I wanted to run FROM the Dominican Republic, no, if they had this much impact on me in just a few days I can’t imagine the incredible lessons I could learn in spending even more time with them. Instead, I run because i want to clear my head and go beyond the initial emotions I’m feeling. I want to move beyond how uncomfortable I am with the realities of what I saw and start problem solving, finding ways to act.
So yes, I’ll admit that my running may be an obsession. But even though I’m not going anywhere on the treadmill, I can promise you that my mind is anything but stagnant.
Each of us has something to do, whether pushing through hours of footage or creating a story out of different quotes or paring down interviews or b-roll. But we are all in this together. And if I may say it, we are getting pretty good as a team doing all of these things.
We are taking apart this video for a good cause. Our mission at the beginning of this trip was to interview this guy named Pedro who lived in a trash dump. Our mission now is to accurately tell the story of a deacon who has spent his life trying to transform the trash dump and surrounding area into a live-able and safe environment. This is a big task for 9 students under the age of 22. How are we going to accomplish this task set in front of us?
We are going to work together. And push each other a little bit. I can sense that we are starting to feel the tension of having a lot to do and only a little time to do it in. This is where our teamwork comes in. I learned that we work well as a group while we were in the Dominican Republic. We can do this.
To those who are waiting on this video, it should be a moving story. Cannot tell you the length or the exact content at this juncture but I can tell you that I trust the people editing this story. We are going to tell the right story about Pedro and we are going to do our best to accurately represent Cien Fuegos. Their story became our story and we are going to tell it right. As Morgan has said, “Game on!”
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.
Sitting in the Journalism Lab, we have been editing and putting together footage for our upcoming film. I feel encompassed by this project and as I think back to last week and how we were in Dajabón a week ago Wednesday, these are my thoughts about the DR and several things related:
I miss dancing. Whether it is bachata, merengue, or salsa-Dominicans seem to do it best. I have danced in colmados, under a tarp used as a roof, in the campo, in the city, at ILAC with the staff and have encountered a variety of moments while moving about the dance floor. Here is a link to some easy bachata and merengue steps. Now one, two, three, touch….step, step, step, touch. It’s quite fun, give it a try and you just might pick up a new hobby.
I wonder how our campo families are doing and how the new cement floors are working out? I’m sure they are much appreciated, and will be in use for many years to come.
I also wonder when my body will fully be adjusted back to eating here in the States? Sticking to a diet of Gatorade, crackers and lots of water isn’t cutting it and I’m longing for some ice cream. Chicken noodle soup isn’t that bad though, especially in a bread bowl.
We are putting together a very rough cut tonight and continuing to work on B-roll. It might be an hour or so more, but it’s all worth it.
Plus, who could complain while spending time with such a great group of people. Let’s keep the tunes playing, and Rachel J-time to point it out.
So we’re back in lovely Omaha.
The weather is gorgeous, which is so very rare right? Right. And so naturally we are all outside taking full advantage of that right? Wrong.
We are in the computer lab. All the time.
We have over 24 hours of footage between all of us, and only need about 15-30 minutes of it.
So we edit. We edit our little hearts out. We organize footage, and mark quotes in interviews, and put together clips of B-Roll.
Tim is running all over the place trying to help all of us at once. Haha thank you Tim.
However, fun is never absent from our group for long.
We just had a pizza party and a nice karaoke moment including The Black Eyed Peas and Lady GaGa.
So, I have been called over to the other side of the room to continue editing for Jen. Duty calls. Until next time–peace, love, and the Seven Dwarves.
So this week will be the only week we have of class that is devoted fully to editing the document together to make something that is coherent. We are trying to find the story and find the best way to tell it. Sorting through 25-30 hours of footage and trying to find the 20-25 minutes that best tell our story is not an easy task. It has already proven difficult as we overcome obstacles that are thrown at us everyday.
We have split the class into working in partner groups that build sequences of footage that can be used to backup the interview footage that we used. So that involves taking footage from 2 or 3 camera angles, lining them up within a frame so they are seamlessly connected to make it more interesting to watch. Besides just sorting through all the footage; importing, naming and tagging all the film clips was a entire day’s task. As we complete more sequences of clips we will sew those and the interview footage together to create our final project and work on voice over or subtitles.
We are hoping to have a good rough cut done by Friday, so keep your eyes peeled for an update on where you might be able to find a sneak peak of the project in the near future.
I have had a lot of time to reflect in recent days, mostly because of certain airlines and the Chicago O’Hare airport not getting along, and I wanted to share some of those reflections.
1. I experienced a lot in the Dominican Republic. I believe that each and every one of us on the trip did. It affected each of us differently, but each of us was affected by the experiences we had. I hope that the members of this trip are able to share that common experience and let others know about it.
2. This documentary is going to be tough to put together. If we were to share every single story that we heard or experienced on this trip, the documentary would be a) very, very lengthy and b) a never-ending editing process. So we are going to be cutting out a lot of information to share the most moving parts with you, the viewer.
3. Traveling to the Dominican Republic has changed my view on the world and has given me a lot of questions to answer. Things look different when viewed under the lens of another culture, and I believe that has been very good for me. Seeing a “middle class” country and then coming back to the States has been a bit off-setting. Am I going to be able to share my time (as opposed to money, material goods, etc.) just like the families we stayed with in Majagual? How can I fight for human rights and for people who are marginalized, like those we saw in Dajabon and on the International Highway? Will the stories I tell influence someone else to do good?
4. I hope to travel again someday, and someday soon. Seeing the immaterial wealth of another culture and of a people is something I would like to continue.
The stories I experienced and heard over the past two weeks are some that I will carry with me and remember for the rest of my life. Ask me about them, I would love to talk about them. Thank you for all of your support and for reading my blog. I do appreciate it.
This part of the story has much less to do with our documentary and much more to do with us learning an incredible lesson from the amazing people of Majagual. Wednesday was our last night in the campo, and I think that everyone really dug into the experience on this night not wanting to miss anything while we were there. Wednesday was our first full day of work were we all got a taste of hard work. Seeing that we had completely underestimated what we would be doing and be astonished by how the Dominicans seemed to work as machines.
It would also seem at this time in the trip many of our perceptions of the DR have changed. They have changed because of what we experienced in the last week of the trip. The experience of Dajabon and Majagual gave us a great look into the other side of Dominicans reality and or lives. Although we only received a very small window into their lives it was enough for us to realize many things about ourselves and and about the people who we were living with.
The way that I see us telling all the stories that we have seen is by exploring all the ways that people have changed, and exploring those peoples stories to help explain how they accomplished all that they have in the Cien Fuegos area. I think it would be hard not to look at these people and see the hard work they have done in their eyes and their faces.
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!