Discover what some of our Park Scholars abroad are doing.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
By Jennifer Jordan, '15
This past Saturday night I found myself in a place of worship at my first true sporting event. A group of friends and I decided to brave the freezing (for Barcelona anyway) weather and attend the Barcelona vs. Seville soccer game. The atmosphere of the countless football games, basketball games, and various other sporting events I have been to in the past could not compare to the electric, focused environment in the Camp Nou stadium. I expected to experience a new level of fan devotion due to the Spaniard obsession with soccer, but it manifested itself in a surprising way.
Rather than a conglomeration of people on their feet screaming obscenities and cheering during the whole game, people were relatively calm, focusing all their energy on watching the athletic gods on the field. They carried on soft conversations amongst each other, usually without peeling their eyes away from the action on the turf. There were not any audience games like the “Kiss Cam” or dance contests that are so common at American sporting events to distract from the game. The stadium remained fairly quiet; only when the swift-footed, Catalan players took a tumble was there a collective clamoring of discontent—that is until Barça scored.
When that long-awaited moment happened where the soccer ball went soaring into the net, the entire crowded suddenly leapt up, whistling, clapping, and roaring their happiness for the team they consider part of their families. Although the feeling of unity and team pride was strongest after each score, there was a section near the field that acted as the cheerleaders throughout the game, waving the Catalan flag and leading the chants that every person—except for the tourists—knew by heart. I was struck by the strong sense of Catalan (not Spanish) nationalism that the fans had and found myself admiring the Catalan ability to preserve their culture in spite of a repressive dictatorship and efforts since that time to unify Spain and Spanish culture.
The biggest difference between this soccer game and just about every other major sporting event in the U.S. was that people were actually there to watch the game, not pig out on fried, cheesy, over-priced delicacies. For example, this past summer I went to a Texas Ranger’s baseball game and watched people single-handedly polish off 3-foot-long chilidogs. Saturday, people were eating small croissants and bocadillos and only during half time. Also, they do not serve alcoholic beer at these soccer games, which I’m pretty sure would be considered a crime in Texas. Although I was kind of disappointed not to snack on some nachos during the game, I think that for once instead of fighting a cheese-induced coma, I was able to invest all my energy to watching the match, hoping for a Barcelona win, and gaining a newfound sense of Catalan pride.
Friday, February 22, 2013
By Bethany George, '15
One of the numerous benefits of studying abroad at the Ithaca College London Center is that you can apply for an internship that compliments your personal interests and your field in study. All it takes is a few extra steps in the application process, such as applying for a work Visa and writing a cover letter.
In my cover letter, I wrote about my desire to work for a writing department for television. Two months later, I found myself sitting at a desk at a TV documentary production company, Films of Record.
Founded in 1979 by a highly praised director, Robert Graef, Films of Record aims to investigate difficult current affairs and social issues, criminal justice, business, science, and politics. The documentaries Films of Records produces are aired on BBC, Channel 4, and National Geographic. Right away I was put to work researching potential documentary series, and writing storylines based on that research. I am in heaven.
On Monday, February 18th, I was blessed with the opportunity of being invited to Birbeck College to attend a lecture with Roger Graef.
In the few times I’ve seen Graef around the office, he in always adorned with a giant smile and wide eyes under his glasses. He shuffles slowing around the workspaces, greeting everyone. The first time I saw him I immediately thought of a shorter Larry David.
After shuffling into the classroom in his own way, Graef described to the students in attendance the myth associated with the media, and his personal explanation of how he has managed to maneuver his way around this myth into impermeable institutions to expose terrible realities.
The myth that is generally associated with the media is that it is an organization whose main goal is to exploit and take advantage of its subjects. With the danger of personal stereotypes and judgments of the interviewer or interviewee being revealed and disseminated, the result is that a true account of the situation might not be created.
Graef has struggled with this issue and has come up with a few reasonable solutions. One solution is he really stresses the idea of being a “fly on the wall,” or just giving a glimpse of the pain without adding to it. In fact, he is one of the first directions to fully take that saying to the extreme and produce some very influential films because of it. 30 years ago, he released “The Allegations of Rape,” a 40-minute film that was about a woman who had claimed she had been raped, and was disrespected during an interview with three policemen.
Another solution Graef practices is a 2-part consent system. He first receives consent to film, and then after the movie is finished he lets those involved watch it and make sure he is portraying them correctly.
After he got permission from both the police and the woman, him and his crew set up a camera in the back of the room and just filmed the back of the woman’s head, and close ups of the polices’ faces. He didn’t add any narration, or do any special effects. However, by acting like a “fly on the wall,” the viewer feels as if they are the woman, being screamed at and accused, and therefore sympathize with her. The police watched the final product and didn’t feel the underlying sympathy, so when they gave Graef the okay, the film caused quite the scene. People were very angry with the police and, consequently the way rape cases were treated in the force was changed.
While remaining almost completely on the outskirts observing, the finalized documentary should have the goal to mediate and challenge the viewers to reflect upon their own ideas. The perfect film grabs viewers’ attention, gets them to think, and inspire them to take immediate action to do something about the issue at large.