Tag Archives: learning

Long Days, Large Payoff

I remember a few years ago when I used to go to high school back in Texas. I remember having to wake up around 6:30 everyday just to get ready in the morning, then get to school an hour later and wait for class to start at 8. I would stay in that school the entire day until the very last class period at 4:30, go home to do my homework, and try to go to sleep at a reasonable time every weekday. It’s times like this week that make me think back to those high school days and think to myself: “How in the world did I manage to survive being in school all day everyday?!”

While waking up early and staying in a classroom all day has taken a toll on my spoiled, nap-riddled sleep schedule, I can still honestly say I’ve enjoyed every sleep deprived moment of this week. I’ve learned so much in the past few days, not about just film, editing, and videography as a whole from Nico Sandi, but also about feature writing from Carol Zuegner, as well as some ecclesiology lessons from Dr. John O’Keefe. It’s been a busy week jam packed with multiple lectures, lessons, and tutorials, and it’s been an incredible ride so far.

This week has been especially great for me in terms of learning new things, because I’ve always been curious about how exactly a camera works. I never knew what ISO was, or how shutter speeds and the aperture affects shots, and how to balance all of these factors to get the picture/video you want. But after this week, I’ve gotten the main gist of how all of these things work, and how to use them effectively in film. I’m actually pretty sure I even had a dream about it at one point; I just couldn’t get it out of my mind after learning about it and seeing it in action every day! Additionally, Nico helped all of us out by giving us cheat sheets with different shots, as well as hints and tips when it comes to shooting, which has been immensely helpful this past week.

Cheat Sheets
Nico’s Handy Dandy Cheat Sheets: The most useful pieces of paper this week

I’m very excited to put everything that I’ve learned this week so far into use while we’re all in Arizona and Mexico. Everyone in our group is very talented and have been doing some awesome stuff as far as shooting and editing videos go, so I’m even more excited to see how well we’ll all work together as a team!

It’s easy to critique a good work; it’s difficult to create one

Have you ever considered yourself to be really good at something? Or can you recite your response to the cookie-cutter interview question, “What are your strongest qualities?” with little hesitation?

Typical answers include: I’m a good listener, I’m a leader, I’m super organized, etc.

For myself, I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty quick learner. However, over the last four days I’ve grown a little less confident in this assertion.

Don’t get me wrong. I have learned more in the last four days than I think I ever have in this  short amount of time. From working with cameras and filming short videos, to setting up interviews and evaluating models in life and the church — Words cannot describe how much I’ve gained so far from this experience.

It’s the kind of learning that challenges you to constantly think critically and creatively. We’re applying everything we’re learning as we learn it and therefore I’m immediately recognizing what I understand and what I need to work on. It has been a challenge, but it has also been one of the most effective ways of learning I’ve ever experienced.

Thorough watching various documentaries, we’ve witnessed what works and what doesn’t work when making a film. I’ve learned so much about the different elements of a camera and now words like aperture, shutter speed and ISO actually hold significance in my vocabulary. I’ve gained an understanding of what a good composition consists of, as well as good practices to remember when filming A and B-roll.

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Aly and Maria take a selfie while gathering footage.

I have a greater appreciation for filmmakers and photographers. It’s easy to critique a good work; it’s very difficult to create one. You need to constantly be alert to your surroundings. Looking for what would be good footage. Listening for a golden-nugget of a quote to use within your piece. Remembering to capture a variety of shots.

We’ve learned about how to lead an effective interview. What questions to ask, when to ask them and how to gather the information needed most efficiently. We’ve discussed the roll theology will play in this trip. The class looked at different paradigm-shifts that have happened in history and what impact these shifts had on society. We’ve worked to try and answer difficult questions like: What does church mean on a global scale? How do you address large issues like poverty and hunger?

Can you tell my thoughts are all over the place?

Over the past four days there has been a constant flow of ideas and information, followed by application and discussion. This has triggered a substantial amount of momentum as we take off for the border.

The experience of a lifetime

At the beginning of the Alaska trip, I really had no idea what to expect.

We all had an idea of why we were going to Bethel and a vague series of expectations about all that this trip would bring. However, for me, the 15 days spent in Alaska far exceeded every expectation that I had.

I started out knowing nothing about videography or editing, and very little about interviewing. I ended this program with much more knowledge in all of those skills (well, mostly in editing and interviewing…yay C Team!).

Traveling with a group of people and living in constant close quarters with those same people definitely taught us all about tolerance and patience.

However, that was a highlight of this trip. Getting to know this group as well as I did really added to the experience. It was so great to hear everybody’s differing perspectives on just about everything. That highlight just reinforced the lesson I learned in Bethel, that there is not a one-size-fits-all perspective or philosophy. Each person and culture hold something that is inherently valuable because they are so different. This group, along with the Yup’ik people, collectively taught me that there are so many different fabrics and colors that make up the tapestry of life.

That definitely surprised me. While I was expecting to learn life lessons from the natives in Bethel, I was caught off guard by all that I learned from my peers.

My peers made the trip a happy one, despite the questionable living quarters and the insane amount of misadventures (and mosquitos).

The incredible ability of the Yup’ik people to respect the land resonated deeply with me. I think many people, including myself, take the Earth and all it offers for granted. That is what I am trying to put effort into changing in my daily life. Also, the Yup’ik spirit of giving. They are such a giving people, who truly practice the idea that whatever you give you will get back tenfold. Just another lesson that I can, with effort, apply to my daily life. And I intend to do so.

We have all learned so much, about the camera equipment, about ourselves, and about people.
Learning is exhausting, and I think we are all still mentally drained from our hard work in Bethel and more recently in the classroom. We are exhausted, but enthusiastic.

I can not wait to see the final results of our labors, none of which could be possible without Tim, Carol, or John. Each of which brought their own unique, important contributions to the team.

This has been the most rewarding experience of my life, and I will always be grateful for every single moment of this Backpack Journalism program.

 

 

C Team Forever!
C Team Forever!

 

QUYANA, everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

World-Class Learning for Kurvers

From the mountains of Montana to the beaches of the Dominican Republic to the tundra of Alaska, Erin Kurvers has set out to see the world.

The Minnesota native loves to travel, a passion that has guided her and shaped much of her life.

Growing up, Kurvers traveled to Montana where she went skiing, visited Yellowstone National Park and spent time with family.

“My all-time favorite place would be Montana. My cousins live there, and every Thanksgiving we would drive out to see them. They have this cool house where our entire extended family would go and hang out. It’s just a home away from home,” the 20-year-old said with a smile.

Early in her life, she also developed compassion for others and their experiences, which has served her well during her travels.

“My parents taught me good values and how to be a good friend. I think they are really good at not judging people at all, which I think is something that I also learned. I knew not to make assumptions about people and to always keep an open mind and open heart when getting to know people.”

Her desire to travel and meet new people led her to attend college at Creighton University.

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Erin getting that B-roll in Alaska. Photo courtesy of Catherine Adams

“I knew I wanted to go somewhere out of the state of Minnesota. I love Minnesota, but I just needed to get out and see different parts of the world and different people from different places. And I liked that Creighton brought together people from lots of places,” Kurvers explained.

Once she was in college, finding a major that both interested her and fulfilled her love of travel was a challenge.

“I have always had a really hard time figuring out what I wanted to do because I kind of like everything. I loved my history classes in high school, but I also loved my science and English classes. I loved it all, so I didn’t know how to narrow it down,” Kurvers said.

In high school she had the idea of becoming an investigative journalist but wasn’t sure it was the best fit. She took a few journalism classes right away in college but wasn’t totally convinced until the spring semester of her sophomore year when she participated in EncuentroDominicano, a living and learning program in the Dominican Republic.

“I knew from the moment I first came here that I wanted to do the Backpack Journalism Program and also that I wanted to study abroad. Those two experiences made me want to do journalism more than after my first journalism classes.” she said.

In the DR, Kurvers took various classes, performed service and was immersed in a new culture. During her time in the country, she wrote about experiences for The Creightonian.

“When I was in the DR, I was doing exactly what I want to do: meeting people from different places and learning about their life and how different it is. The people there were just amazing. You learn how to open up your world view and realize that where we come from really affects us a lot. Then doing the Backpack Journalism Program made me realize that, wow, I really do like this and that this is something I would like to do for a career,” the Creighton junior said.

Although she is currently a journalism major, she is still exploring the possibility of minors in Spanish and international relations. In addition, she hopes to go into the Peace Corps for two years after graduating from Creighton.

“I think what I want to accomplish with my life, in general, is just that I want to do something that is benefiting the world in some way. My most terrifying thought would be working in a business where I am just sitting there doing stuff to make money for a company. I understand that that’s how the world works and we need that part of the world, but personally for me I want to actually be doing something physically that I can see is changing the world in some way,” she said.

Watch and Learn

Starting a journalism-project blog with a story about a camera, typical I know, but bear with me. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a visual learner. When I got my first camera, I took it out of the box, tossed aside the directions and simply played around with it until I understood how to use it. I wanted to watch and see until I could do it on my own.

The other morning, I went to Cecilia’s house to shoot some B-Roll. As we watched her cook and sew, she explained a very crucial aspect to the Yup’ik culture. Like any culture, the Yup’ik people had established a way for their children to learn and pass on their cultures and traditions. They valued and respected their elders, and therefore utilized them as teachers. Children raised in the Yup’ik tradition were taught by watching and memorizing.

Nico watching (through his camera) how to water-proof sew boots.
Nico watching (through his camera) how to water-proof sew boots.

A parent or elder would call the child over as they sewed, prepared dinner, got ready to hunt, etc. and say, “Come sit. Watch.” and from there the child would sit, watch, memorize, and learn how to properly perform the task.

My interest of listening and watching grew even more when we interviewed Charles, a young native Yup’ik. As he timidly sat in his chair, he explained that it was difficult for him to hold eye contact with us because of how he was raised. His grandparents had taught him that to show he was listening, he had to look at the person’s mouth, the complete opposite of western culture.

There is a deep tradition and beauty in learning from someone simply by being quiet and watching. It works along with the Yup’ik’s ways of community and connectivity. In order to learn the skills needed to survive, you had to be present in the moment. You needed to show respect and give attention in order to be successful.

When I tried to teach myself how to work my camera for the first time, I was confused and a little lost. I didn’t want someone to try to explain it to me using words, I wanted to see the different features, the different buttons and how they worked. This theme struck a chord with me. As I continue to learn more, it’s proving that while the Yup’ik culture is different, it’s also one that I could relate to. We both value learning by watching, and eventual doing.

Learning from students

This is my fourth Backpack Journalism trip and I’ve found I learn more perhaps than the students do. I learn things about myself, about the world and about them.  We have a great mix of students this year. All are eager to learn. Some are stepping gingerly out of their comfort zones and some are leaping. But everyone is so open to new experiences. It’s so wonderful to watch and so wonderful to talk to them about what they are feeling and thinking and absorbing.

We have been so fortunate to have a day of learning about historical trauma from Rose Dominic, a wonderful morning with Cecilia Martz, an afternoon with Pat Tam and an evening with Brian McCaffery. We are so lucky to have the opportunity, as short as it is, to learn as much as we can about Yup’ik culture and life in this environment.

fish
Getting ready to fix the salmon for dinner.

We’ve had tasty reminders of how generous everyone is: parishioners have delivered delicious fish and vegetables. Cecilia made us her terrific salmon spread. Father Mark gave us salmon for a wonderful dinner (and learning experience as students learned how to gut and fillet a fish.)

Time seems to be going so fast as we learn and soak up everything.

Alaska, Here We Come!

When I was told that the beginning of this course would consist of a “video boot camp”, I thought it was just a flashy way of saying “introduction to video”. Never have I been so wrong. This week has indeed been a boot camp. After the first four days, here are just a few things that are rapidly firing through my head:

  • I should pack soon
  • A big number means a small aperture…right?
  • Eschatology is fun to say
  • Wait, does a small aperture mean a small f-number?
  • The Fish People
  • No! A small aperture means a large f-number
  • What if I oversleep and miss the plane?
  • f-8 and be there

I’ve learned a lot of things and have been given so much information that it’s hard not to be a little nervous. At the same time though, the things I am most nervous about are also the things I’m most excited about. On one hand, I’m worried about using the video equipment properly, but on the other hand, I can’t wait to put what we’ve been learning into practice. I’m at once concerned that I won’t understand the Yupik culture and thrilled to immerse myself in a world so different from my own.

Just from our short conversations about the Yupik culture, I can tell that these people will have amazing stories to tell. I was a bit awe inspired today when we talked about the Yupik word “Ella”, which simultaneously encompasses the weather, the world, and the universe. One part cannot be changed without having an effect on another. As a Westerner, I have never experienced a culture that places such a profound connectedness between these three parts of the human experience. What a wonderfully wise concept.

I can’t wait to learn from the Yupik people, but I am just as excited to learn from my classmates. Even though I’ve only known some of them for a few days, I am struck by the immense talent that everyone has. Whether it’s an eye for the perfect camera angle, thoughtful insights into theological issues, or a creative way of asking interview questions, each person will contribute to the project in an unique and important way. We may be beginning film makers, but I think we have the ability to do the people of Bethel justice.

The day is nearly here! Before we know it, we’ll be braving the long flights to Alaska and saying hello to Bethel. After months of waiting, our adventure will finally start. To put it in the words of Tim, “We’re going to Alaska, freaks!”

We divided up the food today! We'll have rice and oatmeal for days! Photo taken by John O'Keefe.
We divided up the food today! We’ll have rice and oatmeal for days! Photo taken by John O’Keefe.