This is Part 5 of a 5-part blog series detailing a Communications Fellowship trip to the Comarca in July, 2016. Check out Part 4 here:
This fellowship provided an opportunity that I never could have imagined without the Rowan Swanson family. Due to their generosity, I was able to spend a full three weeks in Panama, conducting interviews with community members, recording footage of daily life, and seeing firsthand the impacts of Few for Change’s work in the Ngäbe-Buglé comarca and what could be done to improve and expand that work. The fellowship money not only provided me with the necessary equipment and travel expenses, but I was also able to take a film editing class in preparation for the content I would make after the trip. Few for Change provided the necessary infrastructure for me to travel and stay in the comarca, and helped me plan my interview questions and desired footage. No amount of preparation, however, could really prepare me to experience the incredible generosity and dedication of the parents, volunteers, teachers, and students I met on this trip. I knew that I would gain something immeasurable through this experience, and as more and more people opened their personal lives to me on camera, I promised myself that I would do my best to represent them as accurately as possible to viewers of my content.
Since coming back to the U.S., I have continued to work with Few for Change, making content, joining the board, and returning to the comarca in February 2018 to attend my first entrega ceremony. I was able to attend a conference at the SIT campus in Brattleboro, Vermont and share some of my experience as an SIT Panama student and Alice Rowan Swanson Fellowship recipient. It has been two years since I flew off to Panama on my first trip to the comarca, and I am still working on content in an attempt to show a little bit of life in the comarca and Few for Change’s work there- stay tuned for a longer documentary piece!
More than anything, I hope that this content and the content that will follow highlight the determination of parents to build a better future for their kids, for students to reach their highest potential, and of a community to advocate for itself.