I first heard about CEED when I was working as a co-host for The Concordian’s radio show. We interviewed Travis Sanderson about his article. He wrote about a mother who was a boda boda driver from Gulu, Uganda. He had just returned from his internship with CEED.
After our interview, I was curious to learn more about CEED Concordia and this opportunity, he gave me a flyer and told me that I should apply for the upcoming internship. I researched more about CEED’s initiatives and about the project and immediately applied for the video documentary internship.
As someone who is passionate about discovering the world and learning about new cultures and people, I wanted to have the chance to explore documentary filmmaking internationally. CEED allowed us this opportunity and this is what led me to participate. I feel extremely grateful that Concordia University has an NGO like CEED that offers students such an impactful learning opportunity.
Upon application, I was accepted into the documentary video team and was a participant in summer of 2018. One of the most memorable moments, out of many, was our screening event.
All summer we followed the journey of MC Twitch, a local hip-hop artist. She uses her talent and love for music to uplift the youth in her community. She shared with us intimate parts of her life, the challenges she faces as a woman in the hip-hop industry and just how hard it is to make a living from music in Uganda.
She also shared her project with us called Reform to Inspire which aims to provide kids at local schools the opportunity to have music lessons. Our screening event took place in August, just a few weeks before our departure. Seeing all the hard work we had put in on screen was emotional. It was a special feeling to see the people of Gulu take a seat and watch our documentary. The feeling of bringing people together was so wholesome. It was an emotional, once in a lifetime type of moment that I will never forget.
Another great moment was during the Gulu International Film Festival (GIFF). I, alongside another intern, Jane Lakes, volunteered to share our video and photography skills to the local youth. It was great to learn with others and to share with them. It definitely was a heartfelt experience.
A challenge we had with our video documentary project were the unpredictable changes. Sometimes interviews got canceled or meetings were delayed. There were a lot of unpredictable changes but we just had to manage, find a plan B and make the best of it. We also had challenges when it came to editing as we only had one computer with the editing software. Organizing our screening event was a lot to take on as well. We had to learn how to best reach the people of Gulu and think about a lot of logistics beforehand to make sure everything worked out.
Personally, I would say the biggest challenge was living in a place so different from everything I had ever known. This has its beauty but also its challenges. It got overwhelming at times. However, these were only temporary discomforts, I knew that I would be coming back home to Canada.
Whereas some people in the community have to deal with the lack of running water, lack of hot water and electricity every day. In addition to economic hardships and the fear of catching malaria every day as well.
This experience impacted me in every way in all aspects of my life. I got to learn a lot about life and how to appreciate it. The friendships I have made and the people I have met that have deeply inspired me. I have lifelong friends in Gulu that I hope to meet again someday soon. I also have an everlasting bond with the people I interned with. I can say that it was one of the best experiences of my life hands down and I cannot wait to be part of an international documentary team again.
Since Uganda, I have not had the chance to travel anywhere else. I was supposed to travel this spring however the pandemic changed those plans. Right now, I am a freelance journalist and will be beginning my graduate diploma in visual journalism at Concordia University.
Before participating in CEED’s internship, I wish I could have known to really take the time to enjoy every moment to the maximum. Not to stress or to miss home but to live in the moment.
I believe volunteering and working abroad is an important aspect of life. If you can do it, you should do it. What you will learn during these experiences will shape your perspectives — it’s something that can’t simply be learned in a classroom or through watching. It needs to be lived.
The opportunity to discover a new country, to learn about a new way of life, to meet people who have lived entirely different lives than you and to listen to them, learn from them…I can’t think of anything richer than that.
For future CEED participants: you are blessed to have this opportunity, be grateful. Make the best out of it. You will be out of your comfort zone and that’s ok. Embrace it. Be open-minded and live in the present moment. Don’t get too overwhelmed, allow yourself to learn and to adapt to situations.
Writer – Sandra Hercegova
CEED Concordia Alumni