Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Life of a Media Person on a Ship

March 4, 2013

Today was a work day, and we started with interviews with the entrepreneurs that we’re assigned to.  Evan is working on editing the episode from Myanmar about Prakti’s adventure in the markets showing off their stove, so we did a pick-up interview with Mouhsine.

He’s always a pleasure to interview because he’s been trained well to repeat our questions and provide exposition in his answers.  He was also a fellow from this past summer’s Unreasonable Institute.  It’s been so fun to watch his business grow and see the passion he has for helping with the problem of inefficient cook stoves and smoke inhalation in the lower income sectors of the countries they serve.  They’d love to move into Myanmar and feel like they’ve got a great market, so they left some stoves to test them out with a couple distributers.  Go Prakti!

After the interview, we got lunch with the team and planned out the workshop that we’re going to lead teaching the students about video production.

It’s been decided that Semester at Sea is going to run a 72-hour film festival on the ship in which students will have to create their films starting when we port in Mauritius.  It started as a way to bring the shipboard community together more and get some more interaction between the Unreasonables and the students.

In order to equip the students for the festival, the media team agreed to lead two workshops: one on production and another on post-production.

With an hour’s preparation, we headed to the Union where we had about 50 students, lifelong learners, faculty and staff show up to learn how to use their cameras.  It’s dangerous to get us talking about film stuff because we’re extremely passionate and can go on for hours.  We did pretty good sticking within our hour for presentation, then broke out into groups with the students so that we could have some one-on-one question time.  The producers went to one corner, shooters in another, sound people in another, and we had a great turnout to each area.  The downside for the students is that they don’t have much equipment, so we also had a one-on-one about shooting on your iPhone and making it look and sound good.

I was so proud of our team.  They did a great job!  And, we got a ton of people complimenting the event and looking forward to the post-production workshop.

Before each port, there are themed appetizer events in the faculty lounge (or the Tipsy Toucan, as we call it) where you can order up a $5 plate of appetizers from the country we’re about to port in and hang out with the staff and faculty from the ship.  They’re always fun events and the appetizers are really good.

Matt and I had one reserved, so we headed up with the team to hang around and snack on Indian food.  The appetizers weren’t enough, so Matt and I scarfed down the second part of our meal in the dining room, then got ready to film a panel at 19:00.

The panel was about the question: “Can we really change the world?” and featured Tori Hogan, who just wrote a book called, Beyond Good Inentions, about how some aid hurts more than it helps (I’d recommend it!), Ken Banks, a National Geographic Explorer and Unreasonable Mentor who founded FrontlineSMS and kiwanja.net, and Archbishop Desmond Tutu who doesn’t need much of an introduction.

The panel was wonderful.  Tori led it and went back and forth with questions between Ken and Arch.  Arch picked on Ken for being British and mocked his accent a couple times, then when he found himself amusing would laugh with his high-pitched giggle and kick his feet in the air.  I was glad that I was on the wide angle to capture it.

All three of them had a really impactful message about what it means to “change the world,” what role we, as individuals, play in that, and whether or not one can even quantify how much impact a single person has had or will have.

Arch is always so uplifting and he spoke about us as a community of people who were having their eyes opened to what life is like around the globe.  The panel came about because students have been so affected by what they’ve witnessed in these countries, and they don’t know what to do with it.  How do you process the poverty?  How do you help?  How do you turn your back and go back to our developed world?

I feel the same way.  I thought that this trip would be an awesome opportunity to reset my life.  I thought it would be a transitional project that would show me the world, then lead me back to options I had set out before leaving and help me choose the right one when I reached home back in Colorado.

However, instead of shrinking my options and showing me the correct path, this trip has blown up my world. There are more options than I had ever imagined to choose from.  My job as a storyteller is so needed in places like we’ve visited.  Our world is more connected than ever, and yet there is still so much that people don’t know about each other.  Even with our connectedness, we still have bubbles in our countries and societies, and media is a bring people out of them.

So, my questions have begun: What’s my job in all of this?  Where do I belong?  Where will I have the most impact?  Where will I be happiest?  And where can I meet in the middle of impact and happiness?  Is that important in the grand scheme of things?  Do I want to entertain or just inform people with my work?

I can’t answer these questions now, but my perspective on life, my career, my future, my country and the world has changed so much in the last two months, that I realize I’ll need longer than I had thought to process this when it’s all said and done.