We began editing our documentary Sunday. I haven’t edited video since early May, and I had forgotten how long it takes. The six hours flew by, but I was exhausted when it was over. We pulled the sound bites, created the text boxes, and put everything on the timeline. The documentary cannot be any longer than eight minutes 20 seconds. Our first attempt was 12 ½ minutes long. After cutting the tours of the refugees’ homes, we have it down to 10 minutes 26 seconds. Sarah and I are trying to figure out which interviews to cut from. We definitely wanted to have too much footage rather than too little, but now everything we have in it seems important, so it’s hard to decide. We still need to add music, modulate the audio and add credits and b roll sequences.
I have a test tonight and a paper due tomorrow, but at approximately 5 pm Tuesday, I go into Thanksgiving mode. My dad and brother are coming, and I’m making my first turkey! I’ve chosen green and black as my theme colors. At midnight, it’s off to Target for their Black Friday extravaganza. Exciting!
As I come to the end of this blog, I think back to the day it was assigned. I wasn’t looking forward to it. It turned out to be really rewarding. I got to stop everything I was doing once a week to reflect on what I had accomplished, which is something I’ve never done before. I have a record of a time in my life where I had to show myself what I am made of. After being cut off from friends and family for extended periods of time due to a grueling schedule, I found a new way to connect and engage. Great assignment.
19 DAYS UNTIL GRADUATION!
We completed our taping for the documentary Friday. No more checking out and dragging around and turning in cameras! We shot our first shots at the CCC from a median at Willow Lawn and shot our last shots of a Bon Secours sign from a median on Monument. It has been an amazing experience. I have met people who spend a minimum of forty hours a week doing nothing but help people. I have met people who are hoping to become Americans and are working to get a foothold on life in America. I have learned about what it is and a little about what it is like to be a refugee. I am more grateful than ever to have been born in the United States. My government doesn’t want to kill me or my family members or infringe upon my rights simply because I am a woman. I am grateful for never having been uprooted from my home, friends, and family and sent to a country where I did not know the language or customs. I am grateful for having learned to read at age four and not age sixty.
We put our script together this weekend. Sarah made it a point to get every person we interviewed to state their name and role, which makes for great introductions into each segment. I think this documentary is going to be really great. We have an early dismissal from class Tuesday so that’s when we’re going to start editing the video together. I can’t wait to see everything that we’ve done this semester put together into a story.
Things have calmed down with my other classes for a bit. Got through all of the tests and the dreaded presentation. I borrowed a flip cam from a friend and am hoping to do a video interview with a guy from work about the thrift store furniture in his house (I hear it’s awesome in there).
26 days to go!
Midweek update: Graduation is one month from today. Hell to the yeah!!!!!!
The newsroom is abuzz this morning because of a lady inTennesseewho is selling lollipops that are contaminated with her child’s chicken pox saliva for fifty dollars apiece. Gross.
Friday we filmed an ESL class in a church in the west end. I always thought ESL classes consisted strictly of language building exercises. We recorded the intermediate class first. They had to find local roads on a map, and they talked about how to dress for and conduct themselves during a job interview. When the instructor asked the class how many people had been to a job interview before, two people raised their hands. The beginner’s class was cute. They stood up and read off their homework: names, addresses, family members, country of origin. Because of the farming culture they grew up in, many of them knew language only as an oral tradition. They are learning to read and write for the first time, some in their fifties and sixties.
Saturday we interviewed Khim. He is a 25 year old man fromBhutanwho lived in a refugee camp inNepalfrom age three to 21. He has been in the country for three years waiting for the rest of his family to join him. He received the opportunity to come toAmericabecause he was well educated. He was an economics and English teacher. He works two jobs seven days a week thirteen hours a day, and lives in a sparse, tiny apartment with two other guys. He shares a bedroom with one of his roommates. His responses went back and forth between all of the challenges he has faced since coming toAmericaand how very grateful he is to the American government and people for giving him the opportunity to live here. In the future, he looks forward to having a beautiful home with his own flower garden. : )
I eat a lot of apples in class. I slice them in the morning before I leave the house. Over the weekend, I bought a gadget that slices the apple into eight pieces while cutting out the middle part with one downward push. It even gets out the nasty little pods where the seeds are kept. It saves me about a minute, plus the time it takes me to wash and dry my good knife, plus potentially a finger tip or two. Excellent.
Got through all of tests last week and lived to tell the tale. I have a big presentation tomorrow for my advertising class, and then all I have to do is watch other people do their presentations. I thought I was getting a break, but no. Now there’s a book to read and a ten page paper to write about it, due in 15 days. UGH.
33 days until graduation!
Monday was the Grad Finale. It was set up like a job fair, but more relaxed and fun. I got a passport that had to be stamped at each table. There were tables for the alumni association, class rings, announcements, and finally, the cap and gown. Once I got all of my stamps, I put the passport into a box for a drawing to win something.
Wednesday we filmed our Iraqi family for the documentary. They were awesome. Interviewing the mother was interesting. Due to her limited vocabulary, we had to reword questions and have her daughter translate. Interviewing the children was much easier. The dad took pictures of us. Documenting the documenters. It took us about an hour and a half to get all of the outside and inside shots plus interviews that we needed. Then it was dinner time. There was a whole chicken with stuffing, hummus, a pile of onions and greens stuffed with rice, cinnamon and saffron topped with chicken wings, potatoes, and lasagna minus ricotta that was called macaroni and cheese. There was so much food. I asked if they ate like this every day. The mother said that typically they ate simpler things like rice with gravy and the food we were eating was for special occasions. Now for the horror story part. When we uploaded the footage into the computer, we discovered that the sound was unusable. We could hear what was being said through the camera mic, but there was no sound from the lav mic (clip on mic). We can use our shots of the house and the stuff in it, but the interviews have to be completely redone. Boo. We already have two other interviews scheduled for this week in addition to three tests and a fifty minute presentation, so I really didn’t need an interview redo this week. What I need is a nap.
40 days to go. When I get through the next eight, the rest will be easy breezy.
Cap and gown fitting tomorrow!
This documentary is getting awesome. We did our interviews with the ladies at Commonwealth Catholic Charities last week. There jobs consist of helping refugees become accustomed to living in America, and they truly enjoy it. They found us our refugee family to interview. We went to their home to meet them later that day. One grandfather, a mom and a dad and six kids, ages five to sixteen, from Iraq. They moved to Lebanon after being displaced from their home during the war in 2006, but could not find jobs. They received refugee status and were sent to Richmond in 2008. The nine of them live in a house about the size of my one bedroom apartment. They are a beautiful family and seem happy and reasonably well-adjusted. None of them started learning English before they came here, and the oldest daughter speaks with almost no accent. Amazing. We go to do our filming Wednesday, and they are making us Iraqi food for dinner!
This week is going to be long. The up side to taking all upper level courses is that you only have a few tests or assignments to worry about because they count for higher percentages of your grade. The down side is everybody wants to assign due dates at the same time. Thursday my midterm paper for my black religion class is due. Next Monday I have a test (25% of my grade) in my religions class, followed by tests in my history of advertising (50%) and history of Germany (33%) classes the very next day. The middle part of the semester is always the hardest.
47 days until graduation!
I got the paperwork to order my graduation announcements this week!
We had our first meeting with the people from Commonwealth Catholic Charities Tuesday. They are the refugee settlement organization we are working with for our documentary. They were amazing. After giving us a brief history of the organization and what they do, they offered us families to interview, language classes to attend and film, and access to everybody from translators and case workers to volunteer staff. The information we got about the differences between refugees and immigrants made us wonder if our interview last week with the historical immigration expert will be of any use to us, but we have no doubt that we will have enough material to put together the eight minute documentary either way. Friday we went back and got shots of the inside of the CCC building and some flags at the War Memorial. It was an absolutely beautiful day, and any shot we got that had clouds in it was nothing short of magnificent.
I endured a particularly traumatizing assignment for my history of advertising class last week. Everyone had to get up
in front of the class and sing two jingles. Mine were for Nair and McDonald’s. One group misunderstood the assignment and rehearsed a jingle to sing together. It turned out to be awesome. Three of them snapped their fingers while one guy
shook a maraca egg and sang one of the freecreditreport.com jingles.
This is not related to my academic progress, it’s just a hell of a story. Thursday I was at my friend’s house when my
keys went missing. Not in my purse, pockets, under my friend’s couch, under the car, anywhere between the apartment and car. Gone. After a failed attempt to unlock the car with a wedge and wire hanger, my friend was gracious enough to use her AAA service to get a locksmith free of charge. The keys were not in the car. The locksmith was able to make a new car key on the spot. The maintenance man got to my apartment at 1:45 am. He did not have the alarm code to the rental office, so all he had was the master key to the apartments. I deemed the original locks inferior upon moving in and bought and installed my own, so the master key was no help. He had to drill into my doorknob and break it. The next day, I bought a new doorknob. While I was installing it, the outer knob ripped off and the piece with the keyhole rolled back into the knob. Another trip to the store and a debate with
the return guy (he failed to see the issue with a doorknob that doesn’t stay attached to the rest of itself) later, I have a working doorknob and keys to my stuff again. Moral of the story: You are never too responsible for a spare set of keys.
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