IGNORE THE ODDS: If you only knew that you were just one of hundreds to become aware of this project. In fact, more than 100 people have "liked " this page in the last 24 hours. So don't worry about what seems like an impossible goal and make a pledge of even just $1. In the end, no one loses and we have lots to gain!
Breaking the Barrier: "A Voice to be Heard" is a unique documentary and web project that tells the inspiring and powerful story of immigrant students in Eastern Connecticut as they face one of their first obstacles upon arriving in America — learning English. In the shadow of North America's two largest casinos, families from China, Tibet, Haiti, Mexico, Cape Verde, Peru and elsewhere are making their home here, prompting an explosion in the number of languages spoken in the region. The words immigrants hear when they first arrive to the United States are more than just vocabulary. They add up to the overall message of this nation, signaling to newcomers who to become and who we are. This project goes beyond the simple phrase, "Learn English," and discovers a beauty in language and power in words. Your support will help raise awareness, appreciation and respect of this coming-of-age experience during screenings at schools, universities, cultural groups and community meetings. The trailer below features key facts behind the story:
All or Nothing: Our Kickstarter fundraising goal goes toward production costs, which we are eager and prepared to begin in May. When you make a pledge, no financial transaction is actually made unless we meet our goal. If we don't, your pledge evaporates and no money is transferred. Obviously, the more money we get above our goal, the better. For example, it's helpful to have additional crew for each shooting day depending on the circumstances.
A Special Word to Montville, Norwich and rest of region: In 15 years as a reporter and editor at the Norwich Bulletin, I was most amazed at the evolving story of immigration and cultural diversity that swept our neighborhoods, schools, jobs and churches. This film goes deep into the heart of a universal story — that of migration — and into the heart of a familiar but beloved story of America. Still, this is our story, and it remains full of surprises. After all, one of the consequences of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks was it prompted a wave of Chinese immigrants who lost their garment factory jobs to leave New York for Norwich and nearby casino jobs. I'm asking for your support, however small, as a tribute to this new, historic wave of immigration. Help support a film that ultimately celebrates what is among our region's greatest strengths and shows we are a welcoming community of all races and nationalities. Go to www.voicetobeheard.org for more information.
Our Awesome Advisors: In addition to Dustin Schultz, director of photography and creative director of Union Productions in Connecticut, this project benefits from the guidance of top-notch advisors. Here they are:
- Former U.S. Congressman Rob Simmons, 2nd District, Conn., who speaks fluent Chinese and some Vietnamese.
- Katharine Allen, co-president of Interpret America LLC in Monterey, Calif., which provides a national forum for the interpreting profession and hosts the annual North American Summit on Interpreting.
- Belmiro Rodrigues is the president of the Cape Verdean Santiago Society in Norwich, Conn. He advises the Cape Verdean student club at Norwich Free Academy and has long been active in promoting the Cape Verdean culture and history in Norwich.
- Anne E. Campbell is an associate professor of TESOL and bilingual/multicultural education and the director of the TESOL, World Languages, and Bilingual Teacher Education Programs at Fairfield University in Connecticut.
- Avital Greener is a photojournalist and professor of photography at Three Rivers Community College in Norwich, Conn. Having photographed from the streets of Norwich, Conn., to Tel Aviv, Israel, the rural mountain villages of southwestern Haiti to the personalities of New Orleans, LA, Avital is perpetually interested in the global human condition.
- Thanh Van Nguyen, principal of Griswold Middle School in Connecticut, was 6 years old when his family escaped from Vietnam to the United States for freedom and education. While living in Maine, Thanh had to perfect his English and adjust to life as an immigrant. At times, he was alienated at school and subject to taunting from other students. As a result, he turned to academics and sports. These experiences proved important for his future in education as teacher and school administrator.