I just wrapped up a visit with Dr. Yevhen Fedchenko’s journalism Master’s students at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Only they know for certain, but I think it went well. I talked about Communication for Development and the ideas behind it, gave some examples of CommDev successes and failures, talked briefly about challenges facing the discipline and talked a great deal about my Master’s project on Crimean Tatar youth and their relationship with their traditional culture.
The students asked a lot of great questions. Many of them hit right at the root of what it means for this to be a CommDev project like “What will you do if you can’t use the footage the participants shoot?”, “How do you get ethnic Russians to watch the film when its finished?” and “What if things come out just showing what an exotic culture the Crimean Tatars have?” These are tougher questions than I got in the proposal defense!
I had answers for all of them, but I could tell these answers didn’t really make the students feel much better. A lot of it just comes down to the project being from a Communication for Development perspective instead of a traditional documentary. I have to give up direct control to empower these young people to tell their story. That *is* a huge risk, and these students recognized that and perhaps think I am a bit crazy to take this chance.
The notion of conflict came up again, as it did in the lead-up to my project defense. I still hold that this project must stay away from hot issues like Crimean Tatar land claims. There is no way for me to address these things in a way that targets my main focus: reducing discrimination/racism.
I was invited back to screen the documentary, so hopefully that means I did alright in addressing the student’s questions and presenting CommDev.
Overall, it was a great experience. My thanks to Dr. Fedchenko and his students for the opportunity and Dr. Don Flournoy at Ohio University for making it possible!