When I first heard of Global Potential, I had only a vague idea of what their trips truly involved. I understood the aspects of the first phase and even the third, but once the students arrived in Nicaragua, Haiti, or the Dominican Republic, I was completely clueless as to what they’d be doing or the impact it would have. After watching just the first video made by GP youth, all ambiguities about GP were made clear. I now understand not only the daily routines of GP fellows, but the cultural aspects of the program, their overall takeaways from spending six weeks in a developing country. Whether staying with host families whose kitchens lacked stoves and refrigerators, watching as little girls walked miles to go to school, or observing the daily hardships of sugar-cane cutters in the blistering heat, each GP experience was unique, yet similar in its effect. Through watching these thirteen documentaries, I could see how the outlooks of GP students were filled with new cultures and expanded into truly global worldviews. It was also evident in the films how GP youth fellows, staff and community members bonded and grew along the way.
What’s especially interesting about these films, which were essentially made by and for youth, is the different impact the experience had on each one of the filmmakers depending on their own personal heritage or perspective. It was fascinating to witness these various transformations, for example of a girl, who is herself a Haitian immigrant in Boston, exposing the blatant racism against Haitians that occurs in the Bateys, (http://vimeo.com/19451745) or a boy from New York of Bangladeshi descent discussing the definition of luxury within a cultural context (http://www.youtube.com/globalhood#p/a/u/1/38jnKzwYqCU). As I watched the filmmakers react to the hardships and the joys of so many of their documentary participants, I couldn’t help questioning my own worldview. These documentaries made by GP youth are amazing in that they open up your eyes in a unique way. I could watch the reactions of the people making them, who come from my same culture, and I almost felt like I was a part of their cultural experience. I found myself questioning the true meaning of luxury along with them, or the racism that may also be ingrained in my city, and I felt my own perspective changing just by watching. I was not only compelled to help the communities that were suffering from disease, flood, and other products of poverty in these remote countries (and that were also so full of beautiful strengths that often are ignored), but I also wanted to use my new knowledge to help my own community that has its many issues. Boston is a very diverse city, and I have grown to love the unique traditions that have grown from this blend. But this expansive diversity also includes many areas of poverty that are overlooked or even avoided by some other neighborhoods, and at times the city can feel almost divided. The emphasis on bringing together local communities that is apparent in many of the GP documentaries has made me realize how I can do my part by making my own community an even more accepting place, and how my own global contribution should start from one of the most obvious places: my hometown.Posted by sylvie