I’m in Paris as I write this because I was invited to present my work at a conference taking place at the Sorbonne. It’s been surreal. Almost as surreal as being hand delivered my copy of the Flaming Lips “blood vinyl” over the weekend during the Elevate event for the banners hanging on the silos along I-80.
Walking along a side street near Notre Dame Cathedral this morning, a friend asked me about the Uganda trip. I told her, “Everyone should be on a plane to Kampala as we speak.”
She asked about the class and I explained how much I am missing in order to be here in Paris.
I ran through a crazy, hectic, “video bootcamp” with the students before I left. We started on a Sunday in order to get in as much training as possible before I abandoned them.
Yes, I abandoned them.
I’m jealous of the time John and Carol will get to spend with the students during those last days in Omaha, during the flight, and during the first few days in southern Uganda. A lot is happening and I’m not with them. I didn’t get in as much bonding time.
I worry I won’t be as connected with the group when I meet up with them in Kampala. I won’t know enough about their personalities, their lives, their expectations. Hell, I am not even sure of their itinerary. Have they already landed in Kampala? Shouldn’t they be in Amsterdam right now?
I suck. I will do my best to make it up to them once we start shooting.
I should explain that the students get class credit for theology from John. They get class credit for writing with Carol. They get nothing from me. They get filmmaking lessons and plenty of direction from me, but they get no credit for it. I worried about this dynamic the last couple of years, but since I have been gone nearly all week, I am even more concerned about it this year. I am there to make sure the film happens and is done to the highest standards.
But how can I make sure it is the highest quality when I’ve abandoned them for nearly a week? Will they listen as I try and direct the filming each day? Will they resent me and instead turn to Carol and John for advice? Will they follow directions after we return to Creighton for our two weeks of grueling video editing?
I shouldn’t admit these things here since they will likely all read this post, but maybe it is my way of apologizing and asking for forgiveness. Traveling in Uganda, while certainly safe, is still something you’d prefer to do with people you know well. And it is hard to take direction from the guy that hasn’t experienced everything with you.
On top of it all, we are supposed to be adapting to living in the developing world, yet here I sit in a nice hotel room in Paris, a stone’s throw between the Palais du Luxembourg and the Pantheon, across the river from Notre Dame Cathedral. Once in Uganda, I fear I will keep bringing up that I’ve been to Africa multiple times and first experienced the developing world when I was fresh out of college. I will tell them I had lived in Africa for nearly five months. I fear I will over compensate.
I fear anything more which could compromise this year’s film.
Ultimately, it will all be fine, I suppose. I am simply lucky to be a part of the group, and I will get to see all their wonderful faces very soon. And even if they aren’t sure about me, my gut tells me they are going to do an outstanding job with the film.
…At least there is one thing I am certain of