Students polish production skills, help nonprofits
Five SF State students spent three weeks of their summer halfway across the globe putting their video production skills to good use -- and for good causes.
The students were part of a set of classes, Electronic Media and Social Justice, taught each year by Professor of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts (BECA) Betsy Blosser. One of the courses includes a summer trip to a foreign country to produce videos for non-governmental organizations, giving students an opportunity to use their skills while benefitting the local and international community. This year's group traveled to Karatu, Tanzania.
"It's a service learning class, and the concept of service learning is that students use their skills to benefit an organization in the community," Blosser said. "Our skill is video production."
In the two-course sequence, students spend the spring semester making videos for a local nonprofit organization, then in June travel abroad to make videos for a non-governmental organization. Blosser has been teaching the classes since 2001, and she and her students have traveled to Peru, Brazil, Thailand, Guatemala, El Salvador, India, Ghana and now Tanzania.
This year, the class worked locally with the Edgewood Center for Children and Families, and in Tanzania with the Tumaini Junior School and the Lake Eyasi Girls Vocation Training Centre. The Edgewood Center is a Bay Area organization that helps children and families overcome trauma, mental illness and other challenges. The Tumaini Junior School provides instruction in English for Karatu youth. Lake Eyasi teaches vocational skills such as sewing and knitting to women who are victims of rape or incest or who have been, as is common in Tanzania, abandoned and left penniless by their husbands.
Following the long trip to Karatu, the group's first task was to determine what exactly the two organizations needed. Both organizations, it turned out, were looking for the same thing: Videos that can be used to assist fundraising campaigns in the U.S. and elsewhere.
"We go to an organization and say, 'We're here to offer you a video at no cost. Your job is to tell us what you need that can be address through video,'" Blosser said.
The students interviewed staff members and clients of the two nonprofits and began editing the footage on laptops, though most of the post-production work is done after students have returned to the U.S. The videos will be screened on campus on Oct 10.
Although Blosser acknowledges the importance of service learning, she also emphasizes the opportunity for professional growth the trip offers.
"We have a job to make our students citizens of the world," she said. "There is no better way to do that than to be of service to another organization in another country. We go to developing countries. The students see poverty and injustice up close. They also get video skills in a developing world context where they can't go to the local Apple store or run to our department's cage to get equipment. They have to sink or swim."
For Kimberlee Walker, a BECA undergraduate student who hopes to someday be a television producer, the experience, she said, was eye opening.
"When you go outside the U.S. and you see how other people are living, you not only realize how blessed you have been but also how you can use your talents to change the world," Walker said.
For more information about the Oct. 10 screening of the videos, visit http://creativestate.sfsu.edu/events/2013/10/10/6766