Message from the Director
I started doing video work internationally when I first joined the Peace Corps in 2006 and again as an audio/video specialist with Peace Corps Response in 2011. Now, as a University of Colorado Boulder (CU) graduate student in the Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities program, I am working to help service minded engineering students work more effectively with international communities through the development of cross-cultural competency. My goal is to communicate the importance of this subject through video by documenting the first hand experience of the CU Bridges To Prosperity (CU-B2P) engineering team working in participatory development with the community of Copachunchu this summer in Bolivia.
Meet the CU-B2P Team
The team I am traveling with is an undergraduate University of Colorado student branch of the non-profit Bridges To Prosperity. For the past six months they have been volunteering their time designing and fundraising for a bridge building project in Bolivia. Mickey, the project lead, co-founded the club two years ago and it has quickly become one of the most exciting engineering student groups on campus (check them out on Facebook). Mickey just graduated this spring so this will be his last CU-B2P project. I'm excited to get his perspective on how international development has influenced his worldview and career choices.
Why Cross-Cultural Competency?
Bernard Amadei, founder of Engineers Without Borders – USA, and my professor at CU, realized “there is a need for training a new generation of engineers who could better meet the challenges and needs of the developing world”. A significant stumbling block to meeting these needs is recognizing that people from around the world generally define problems differently than we do in the US. Students who develop these skills will have the knowledge, ability, and open-mindedness to work more effectively with people from diverse cultures while appreciating the differences we share.
(Got some time? Check out a documentary I helped produce about Peace Corps service and the importance of cultural understanding.)
I will produce three YouTube videos to compliment an existing cross-cultural training kit for university engineering students preparing for international development work. In addition to emphasizing the importance of cultural awareness in effective community development, the interviews and on-site footage will provide real world examples of key cross-cultural challenges US engineering students are likely to face working in these new environments. This material will help prepare future teams to 'plan as you go' when schedules become delayed, think more creatively when resources are limited, work more inline with the community's needs and desires rather than their own, respect local cultural customs, and how to obtain a more complete sense of fulfillment from the work that they do.
In order to reach the largest audience the videos will be posted on YouTube for free public viewing. An additional set will be subtitled in Spanish for Latin American viewers.
This project has a definite goal and will be completed before school starts up again in September.
Travel Dates: May 27 to July 15
Where the Money Goes
I've already invested heavily in this project. I want to make sure it gets done so I've taken out loans to cover the initial expenses. Last summer I bought a 5D Mark III camera for documentation plus all my time and effort is volunteered. The $3500 I’ve budgeted for this project will go toward travel expenses, my visa, food, lodging, some essential gear and post-production costs (including rewards). This is a conservative estimate and the bare minimum I’ve budgeted to get the job done. If I raise more than my goal I have an option to pursue additional work in Peru with the Engineers Without Borders – CU student program. Their additional insight and experiences will further strengthen the validity of this project (read more about their project here). Make no doubt - I am investing more into this project than my fundraising goal so your contribution will ensure I am not burdened with excessive debt when I return home.
If you enjoy photography and cinematography then you’ll love my rewards. Bolivia has an amazingly diverse landscape with beautiful and warm-hearted people. In addition to completing this project I will be capturing candid moments of the community members, the team and doing plenty of time-lapse photography – all for you! I’m a big fan of storytelling too so my plan is to turn my blog into a coffee table picture book you can share with your friends. I’ve also purchased a limited number of pint glasses and t-shirts just for you - first come, first served!
Kickstarter is an online crowdfunding source that allows you to participate in the production of this project. Your pledge is a promise of support should I reach my goal of $3500. It’s all-or-nothing so if I don’t reach 100% your contribution doesn't come through!
Supporting a Kickstarter project is simple but you do need to follow a few steps. Here are instructions and a short video explaining the process:
How to Contribute to My Project
- Step 1: Click on ‘Back This Project’ and decide which Pledge description you like.
- Step 2: Create a Kickstarter and Amazon Payments account.
- Step 3: If I am successful your account will be charged when my campaign ends. If I do not reach my goal then you will NOT be charged.
- Step 4: SPREAD THE WORD! Tweets, Facebook shares, blog posts, tumbles, pins, word of mouth - any and all efforts will help build momentum towards reaching my goal!
Chava Digital Media: It was my brother’s idea to start Chava Digital Media in honor of our late grandfather, Salvador ‘Chava’ Padilla. This will be CDM’s first major project! Follow us on Facebook and watch our business grow!
Vaisnava - The Atma Studios: I first met Forrest Gore (Vaisnava) during college in Bellingham, Washington, when he moved into my pad on 305 North Garden Street. I was blown away by his technical and artistic mastery of digital music. Forrest will be helping me in post-production to deliver the cleanest sound to your ears. His music will send you into alternate dimensions – check him out on Facebook!
Bridges To Prosperity: Bridges to Prosperity is a non-profit that focuses on providing isolated communities with access to essential health care, education and economic opportunities by building footbridges over impassable rivers. Their vision is a world where poverty caused by rural isolation no longer exists. Help me improve the amazing work they do!
Risks and challenges
LESSONS LEARNED - a little backstory...
If you watched my video then you know I'm making up for lost work here. Last summer I completed documentation with a team in Bolivia but Murphy's Law got the better of me and I lost most of my data to an irreparable hard drive failure. I've taken it upon myself to complete this new project on my own dime and, hopefully, with a little bit of your help.
Here is my assessment of the major risks and challenges I am likely to face based on my previous experience in Bolivia and abroad.
RISKS: Camera theft and equipment failure represent the greatest risks to this project. With over 7 years documentation experience in over 20 countries I have learned what precautions I need to take. I travel light and don’t draw a lot of attention. I have damage insurance for my camera and laptop. And, yes, I will be backing up my data on site to two identical hard drives.
CHALLENGES: Manpower, language and cultural dynamics represent potential roadblocks. I am a one-man DIY video production team so this small project will be a big undertaking, but I’m up for it. My Spanish is not fluent. Nevertheless, marginal Spanish abilities will still allow for direct communication with the community. What I lack in language I will make up for with charm, a genuine interest and a willingness to make a fool of myself. There is also the challenge of Bolivians not wanting to be filmed by foreigners. I have worked with many communities on film projects so I understand the importance of cultural sensitivity and the need to take time with my subjects. My plan is to spend many days with the community allowing ourselves to get to know each other before attempting to film. I do not want to invade anyone’s privacy nor abuse their respect. For those who do participate I will offer printed photos of their choosing as a token of gratitude and, if possible, video copies of their interviews.
- (51 days)