Film premiere / El estreno de la película

As a final assignment for COM-265, Video Representation in the communication studies department, the class has embarked on an ambitious project to collaborate with three Latino families in St. Peter to produce three short videos that will offer a glimpse into their everyday lives.

The three short videos will be shown as a public premiere: El estreno de la película, which means the movie premiere in Spanish. The screening will take place on Dec. 15 at 7:00 p.m. in Confer 127.

The project has been in the works since April and is the culmination of the efforts of multiple people, including Martin Lang, instructor for the video representation class, Sophomore Roberto Peña, who is conducting an independent study dealing with the Latino community in St. Peter and Jeffrey Rathlef, the Director of Community Service and Service Learning at Gustavus, among others.

“The purpose is twofold: to give the video representation students practical experience in video production as a tool for community-based research and to partner with members of the Latino community in a way that will help bridge the familiarity gap between our Latino neighbors and the rest of the city,” Lang said.

The screening will be an important step to help develop a stronger bond between the St. Peter community, the Gustavus community and the Latino community.

Anyone is encouraged to attend to gain an insight to the growing Latino community in St. Peter as well as to support the video representation class.

“Students, staff, faculty and anybody who calls St. Peter ‘home’ should come to the screening so we can better know the people with whom we share our town. All of us already work, shop, play and live together, but we often do it without getting to know the people around us very well.  This screening will be an excellent opportunity to put into practice the core Gustavus value of community,” Lang said.

“The reason this project is important is because students, staff and community members will learn about their neighbors, maybe someone who they never knew existed in their own community,” Peña said. “I also believe that this video will help break any stereotypes people have of others outside of their class, race and religious views. By getting a glimpse into the lives of three Hispanic families of St. Peter, people will know these people contribute to community despite the language barriers.”

Outside of integrating this community-based research project into the Gustavus curriculum, the class has been challenged by producing a final project concentrated on  Spanish for a class of non-Spanish speaking students. “The language [barrier] has been an enormous obstacle to collaborate with the Latino community, but this experiment has proven that, with the right support from the community, such a collaboration is possible and rewarding,” Lang said.

The students in the class have been fortunate enough to learn more than simply the basics of video production. “This project has taught me a lot about video making for one, but how important it is to know about different groups of people within a community,” Sophomore Communication Major Katie Batz said.

This project presents a unique opportunity for St. Peter residents to learn about people in their own community with whom they would most likely not interact with otherwise. “I think this project will be really good for the St. Peter community. I don’t necessarily think it will drastically change the social dynamics within St. Peter, but I do think it will help clear some stereotypes between the two groups which is a huge step in the right direction,” Batz said.

The screening will try to stress a couple things for the people in attendance. “[I would like people to get] a sense of empathy and to connect with people they see around St. Peter [who] are not of the same cultural background. I want people to not just see someone on the street of St. Peter and completely ignore them just because they don’t look like you. Getting to see into the lives of these three families will show you that they, too, are normal people just like you and me,” Peña said.

“Quite simply, I would like people to get to know some neighbors they have probably never met before,” Lang said.

Not only will this project allow members of the community to get a glimpse of three Latino families’ lives in St. Peter, but also it has provided a unique experience for the students in the video representation class.

“I have enjoyed this project so much. Ramiro is one of the most fascinating people I have ever met, and without this project I would have never met him. The amount of insight he has given me about life is so much more than I ever thought I’d take away from this project,” Batz said.