March 23: Workshop in Panajachel
On March 23rd, five of the six kids traveled from Chirijox to Panajachel. I arrived early to set up the computers and the files that they would need only to find the electricity out. This reminds me once again of what we take for granted in the US. We don’t lose power too often in Guatemala and when we do it is either a scheduled maintenance (on those days our power is out from 7 AM – 5 PM) or a short term outing, maybe five or ten minutes. But today, neither of them were the case today. Not planned, not short. We needed electricity. So we packed up and moved to another location.
The goal for today was to revisit the aims, intentions and audience for the project. I wanted to hear what the kids were thinking and wanted to refocus us a bit. It can be easy to film and forget the thread of the story. I wanted them to talk to me about what they think the purpose of this work is and who should hear it. They did. They each shared their own interpretation. Some of the responses included anything from learning the camera, to learning the technology, to learning to identify and research problems in the community. Yet, the concept of uncovering histories is still something that is not yet in their vision. Getting to the critical lens of the project will take some more work.
Following this conversations, we got to work. I was up late the night before writing and translating comments for each of them and each of their projects. I loaded the comments onto each computer. I had intended on printing them, but with no electricity at the office, the was the only option. They read through the comments.
As they finished one by one, Erin and I talked to each of them individually. We asked them to summarize what they read and what they took away from the ideas that I suggested. I also began conversations with them about “critical literacy”.
As mentioned above, critical literacy is one of the goals of this project. Critical literacy focuses on reading texts from different vantage points – not only the most popular ways of talking but also the varies ways of seeing things. One of our intentions is to foster critical literacy for questioning their own situations and to unpack their histories. In doing so, they need to not only ask questions and accept the answers, but also to actively analyze what is said. In asking, “what are the underlying messages of what is said or not said?” students can begin to think about their situations through political, cultural, and historical frames. They can ask questions that help them understand their histories. Why are things this way for their communities and not for others? Why did youth go to school in other communities and not theirs? Why did their parents work so far away; why was there no work in the community?
Editing and Translating:
The second goal was to begin editing some of their pieces. While they do not have a lot of footage at this point, I was hoping that this would allow them to see what else they need. At this juncture, they still need a lot. They have a few interviews and some b-roll, but they don’t have all the pieces for their stories.
Marcos and Carmen were the only ones editing today. Here you can see Marcos navigating files to find clips that match his written story.
The others continued translating their interviews from K’Iche to Spanish. Catalina worked on the translations for a woman weaving, while Emilio translated the powerful story of a woman’s account of losing her brother to alcoholism.
The day was full and I didn’t even get to complete everything that I wanted to. There is so many layers of work to this project. These include: digital literacy, critical literacy, translations, mentoring, one-on-one feedback, peer learning, storytelling… It is all coming together, but today just reminded me of the complexity of what makes this project possible and what makes it an enormously deep experience for all of them.