Tuesday, April 17, 2012
by April Nwatah
Dictionary.com defines the word “empathy” as “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” My experience with the Facebook Video Project has allowed me to experience empathy in a way that I did not imagine.
Since I’m making videos for the Latino community in Urbana-Champaign, my partner and I decided that the best method of making these videos would be going to the locations that we want to talk about and filming the location, allowing us to show the information instead of just talking about it. Since we always give bus directions in our video, we make sure to take those directions to make sure that they are correct and simple to follow. So for example, when we did a video about the Urbana Free Library, we started off at Illinois terminal, followed our directions to go to Illinois Terminal, and took photographs and video clips at the library.
Making the videos this way has enabled me to visit various parts of the Champaign-Urbana community with a new lens. Instead of going to places like the library, Salt and Light, etc for my self, I’m going with Spanish speakers in mind, paying attention to every detail of my journey and reflecting upon whether it caters to Spanish speakers or not. For example, when we went to Planned Parenthood to film, we were required to press a button to speak to someone who would let us in. Although there was a sign in Spanish telling the person to press the button, the person that spoke did not speak any Spanish and gave us instructions in English. This encounter made me feel uncomfortable, because if I did not know English I am not certain that I would have known what to do. After speaking with the receptionist about this encounter, she explained that when they get Spanish speakers they usually understand enough to know what she was saying – but what about those who don’t? What about those who, after hearing English, get discouraged, turn away, and don’t get the services that they need?
With these realizations in one hand and empathy in the other, I’m left with the question: “what do we do now?“ I haven’t answered that yet. Got any suggestions?