Jason Murray, and Steve Thomsen, Department of Communications
We are entering an age where the influence of social media is inevitable. Some activists are opposing it, but others are embracing social media and allowing it to promote their way of life. Minority groups often face cultural transmission and language issues from generation to generation.
Through this project, not only did we learn more about minority groups in New Zealand, but also documented inspiring stories and first-hand accounts published in the news and shared globally via social media. The goal was not just research, but to facilitate and tell inspiring stories through visual mediums.
For three months our group traveled to various cities in New Zealand, looking for stories to tell and things to learn. Fortunately New Zealand is rich in both stories and culture, and we were able to interview many different people from various walks of life. We carried video equipment everywhere we walked and recorded every interview and personal encounter possible. Some interviews involved fisherman, restaurant cooks, surf instructors, Maori tribal leaders, religious leaders, street performers and athletes. We learned that the best insights often came from the least likely people.
After hearing an inspiring story, we would then take the video files back to our living quarters (hostels, hotels, school dorms, etc.) and begin constructing a short form documentary-style video piece. Sometimes, extra video footage was needed or reshot in addition to the interviews in order to tell the story creatively or more powerfully.
Every story was then published online at www.fightforthefew.org, and shared via social media. Some of our stories have since reached hundreds of thousands of people, and also published multiple times on www.mormonnewsroom.org.nz.
Kelsea Elkington, 15, from Takapuwahia is a promising competitive weightlifter invited to join the national Olympic weightlifting development team. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” couldn’t have been truer as family and friends shared with us the love and support that surrounds this inspiring teen. Watch and read about it here: (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org.nz/6226056194879085337)
We met an inspiring Italian man that was leaving in Dunedin, New Zealand as a surf instructor. His story about finding a more fulfilling lifestyle was one of the most inspiring stories of the trip. Read and watch it here: (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org.nz/article/byu-students-makevideos- in-new-zealand)
We had a chance to interview a newly wed couple that has had an impact on the entire world. The “Wedding Haka Couple” shared with us their perspectives on religion and culture. The video has been viewed over 300,000 times and has sparked a creative discussion in the comments on the inspiration of the Haka. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3h9Sr6fzGQM)
This project became more meaningful than I could have ever imagined. Not only were we able to document some of the most inspiring stories from various minority groups and cultures, but also we were able to develop relationships with people that will last a lifetime. The project helped raise the standard of the kind of work that we can achieve within the Communications program, and increased the importance of experiential learning experiences like this one.