Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I want to change my day job!

I went to a training this week on learning how to make a documentary. Our instructor was a former photojournalist, who now teaches in our school of journalism at the university. I have been thrilled that our new chancellor is committed to service in the community and the state, recognizes the value of service in both educating students, and in how it contributes to the development of communities and individuals. I have been doing service learning (active learning, engaged learning, community service--every name it has been called in the years long after social work was doing it as a matter of pedagogy) ever since I began teaching. I have had a consistent service learning project in a local community neighborhood every semester for the past 4 years. Not only have the students benefitted--and I heard just a couple of weeks ago from one who talked about how that project helps her in her current work right now--the community has benefitted. Each time we go, we see old friends and newcomers. The ones who know us from the past four years always express appreciation that we continue to be a presence and support and resource in their neighborhood; the newcomers are always full of questions about why we are there and what we are doing. At our last event at the end of the semester last fall, a mother said, "I know you must have a heart for this, because you are still coming." Many communities are used to college students coming in to do a one-time project and then departing. It is a source of pride to me, I confess, that we have been able to continue this work for 4 years.

What does that have to do with my "day job"? There is encouragement to document our work in communities, and in support, the university offered this training and access to a wonderful new digital video camera called the FlipCam. Debra and I did our first interviews today for the documentary. I was amazed at the things I would not have thought to do--even though I have been photographing--and even made some videos--for years. I set up the camera, arranged the best angles, addressed lighting, did test runs, etc. After the interviews, I downloaded the files and began to edit to start the work on the documentary.

Here comes quitting my day job! It was so much fun--looking at the interviews, selecting the pieces that best tell the story, creating titles, etc. It will take us a couple of weeks to get this first one ready, and we do the second piece of filming in the Delta next week--I have already been framing shots in my head and thinking of how to pull it all together. This first film will be part of our presentation in Atlanta next month, but ultimately, will be a record of our new service project in the Mississippi Delta.

I must confess, though, one of the most exciting things today was just looking at the video of the two interviewees, hearing their thoughts, and feeling an excitement and a satisfaction about the future and being privileged to have an entree into their lives and minds. And for that reason, no matter how much I loved the technology and the new fun, it was just a reflection of the reality of my real job.

1 comment:

Betty said...

I'm glad you're documenting all of your "gifts". It gives your life focus and meaning to your everydays. How fortunate your students are to experience this with you!