Friday, May 18, 2012

What A Certain Journey Has Taught Me

Yesterday was a near perfect day in the community of City Heights. The sun was out, there was a near perfect breeze graciously appearing to cut into the heat, and there were six smart, mature, amazing girls who were continuing a journey that started when they first arrived in the United States.

When the San Diego Asian Film Foundation (SDAFF) first announced that it would be working with AjA project, Sun and Moon Vision  Productions, Survivors of Torture International, and the International Rescue Committee to give refugee students a chance to further explore their skills in photography to include video creation, I thought that it would be a great opportunity to continue doing good work through SDAFF. What I found was a program that has actually taught me more than I could ever imagine.

Every Thursday since February, I have, along with a representative/instructor from AjA project, a mental health clinician, and a couple of volunteers venture into the "refugee capital of the US" and take a classroom at Crawford High School and work with these kids to create their journey on video and to give audiences a glimpse into what their life is like here.

What I have learned is that the process is actually more important than the result, especially when it comes to teaching new skills to young people. Granted, I am confident that we will have a great short film to show audiences and that there will be a new-found appreciation and knowledge of the refugee community in San Diego. More important than that result however, is the process of turning very shy young people who come from war ravaged countries in Africa and Asia into brave storytellers who are proud of their journey here and their culture. Another amazing find is how well they worked together, even if they were from different nations and cultures. This cross-cultural learning is an invaluable component of the Reel Voices Journey Program.

From poetry, to storyboards, and photos/video, these young people have found new ways to communicate their experience from their old home to new home. We may have taught these kids the basics in media making, but for me personally, their spirit, honesty, and open hearts made this experience one of the most memorable in my life. I am forever thankful to our staff/volunteers Kathy, Trish, Ashleigh, Emily, Ana (both of them, sorry inside joke), the staff at Crawford High, and of course the amazing students that have given me a true gift: their stories.
For more info on Reel Voices Journey click here, and keep an eye out for updates!

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