Baby Steps

As we get further along in this project, we have begun to encounter more and more problems with the website. Things like sizing issues, content organization, coding problems, what type of features to use, etc. Its challenging and frustrating but I think that its been important to our learning experience.

When we enter “the real world” in about 6 months, we are sure to be met with dozens of challenges like the ones I just described. Clients will make us change and rework things a hundred times before we finally get it right. HTML won’t cooperate. JQuery features will conflict with one another.

The problem will be that we won’t have a team of trained and knowledgeable students to back us up and help us troubleshoot and problem solve. I think that has been one of the biggest learning curves during this project– is figuring out how to solve these issues on our own, without using our professors as a crutch. As far as Randy is concerned, he’s been fairly hands-off during post-production. He’s letting us make our own decisions and create our own site. He has been around to give advice and offer solutions, but for the most part, this project is all our own. I feel like we are working in an office environment, creating media for a client.

Everyday we get here around 10am, and everyday we leave around 6pm (or later). We work together in editing bays, going through videos and using DreamWeaver, wordpress, google docs, illustrator, Flash, photoshop, and Final Cut to come up with a final product that we will be proud to show to Fundacion Bendaked. But it is a tedious a process. And a frustrating one.

A few minutes ago Mollie came in and excitedly said, “I got it to work in both browsers!” Not sure what she’s talking about but then she explained that she’s taking “baby steps” to get the site to work the way it should. Its an interesting concept, that the most minute of details take hours of coding, and yet we call them “baby steps”. Maybe the baby steps are the most significant accomplishments. A big picture is made up of a hundred tiny details, and who’s to say that those details aren’t as important as the finished product?

Site goes live in 5 days and I know we have a hundred more baby steps to take. My hope is that once we are finished, we won’t forget the process it took to get there. From start to finish, Team Rando has been intimately, emotionally, and professionally invested in this project. From Panama to Elon we need to stay focused on what the project means not only for us as students and aspiring professionals; but more importantly what it means for us as human beings helping those less fortunate than us.


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Filed under Jordan Thorndyke

Reflections on the adventure

Since I’ve been home for about a week, I’ve had time to reflect on all our experiences.  Our time in Panama was a like a whirlwind with our crazy schedule and racing the clock to get everything uploaded from all the cards.  Since we’ve been home, we’ve been looking at all the footage for days at a time to get things ready for the website.

This last week I’ve realized that while getting the word out about Bendaked in important, and educating people about the disabilities that are going unnoticed in Panama is crucial, but what I’ve enjoyed most are the moments where I’m editing film and come across a clip where a person with a disability is smiling, goofing off or just having fun.

While I was in Panama it was hard to see these people as human beings because of the shock of their disabilities, but now I’m able to see these people as humans beings, who have hope, joy and faith.  I like looking at the videos and coming across a bit of laughter or a smile.  Seeing these positives, even with all the negatives makes me want to work harder so these people can have more smiles and more laughter.

All in all…the most important thing about this project is hope.  The hope that things will get better, and these people will spend more time happy.

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Filed under Alison Hydrick

Dilemmas and Decisions

As “Team Rando” works hard to build a website for Fundacion Bendaked, I am left with many questions about content and the best way to communicate our message to our audience.

I have worked with a few nonprofits, so I have some idea of how the administrative, fundraising, and communications processes work within the nonprofit sector. However, I have not ever had to control content and make the kinds of decisions about messages that we are making with this project. For example, we are often met with dilemmas about how graphic we should get when using photos and videos on the site. We want to make our point and show people how desperately these people need help, but we also don’t want to dehumanize our subjects or turn our audience off through visuals.

If I think back to my journalism ethics that I took in undergrad, I remember similar issues that news corporations face every day when they print papers or broadcast the news. Things like protecting names of rape victims or not showing caskets of war casualties are ethical rules that news institutions have followed for years. Unfortunately for our project, there really isn’t a steadfast rule of thumb as far as what we should or shouldn’t put on our site.

For example, I have seen nonprofits that work with childhood cancer patients who try to really appeal to the sympathy of their audience by using photos of very sick children, with bald heads, and sad faces. I have also seen organizations that use happier photos of children that appeal to a sense of hope in the audience. It is important as we create this site to remember that the content we choose will set the tone of the entire site.


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Filed under Jordan Thorndyke

Back in the Homeland

For the past 5 days, Team Rando has been working hard at Elon to sift through all the video, photos, interviews, and information we gathered to create a functional and useful interactive website for Fundacion Bendaked.

As the other groups come back from their trips, our group has grown even closer as our classmates amp up the competition and we fight over space in our building. The Panama groups have moved out of Powell (where our grad program is located) and into McEwan (the undergrad comm building), much to the dismay and resentment of the undergrads vying for space in the editing bays.

Too bad they are no match for a group of great adventurers like us. Since I am in charge of content (writing), my job hinges on what the rest of my group is doing. I can’t start writing up stories about interviews until we know who we are featuring on the site. I can’t write photo captions until I know which photos we are going to use. I think you get the idea. That gives me plenty of time to do things like blog… and micromanage… and provide input… and probably annoy the rest of my group. Good thing I bribed them with sweets from Panera today.

The good thing about my job is that I can do a lot of the little things that no one else really wants to do. For example, I’ve made a quick presentation in PowerPoint for when we present our website next week. Apparently all of the faculty from our graduate program as well as the School of Communications has been invited to hear about our fly-in projects and see our final products.

So far so good on the whole design thing with the website. Bettina is amazing. As are Mich and Mollie. As bored as I’m sure they were sometimes in Panama, there is no way we could do this without their talents. Bettina is our graphic designer and the concept she came up with for the site is awesome. Mollie is an HTML goddess and Mich is a Flash genius. They have done some cool things to make our site functional and aesthetically pleasing.

Alison and Chris have been hard at work editing videos. Victoria came in today for the first time (she just flew in yesterday) and has been working to translate all of the videos and interviews. Erika is editing photos for the site and Hayley is making sure all the lose ends are tied up. The worst part about all of this is that we haven’t had a break since the day after we got back. No weekends off, no time to sleep in or catch up on life that we missed while we were out of the country. However, I prefer this much more than our normal class schedule because it is more job-like. This is the kind of project you can leave at school at the end of the day and come back to later.

Can’t wait for the site to go live so that the foundation can see all the hard work we’ve put in for them!

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Filed under Jordan Thorndyke

Edit Edit Edit Edit

Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit Edit

Yeah….I have a one track mind.  I never thought I would lose myself in Final Cut Pro for 8 hours at a time dealing with file management, but that’s what I did today.  Sorting clips into folders and importing clips into Final Cut Pro, and then labeling all the clips took quite a while.  I’ve learned my lesson in file management and work flow.  Being over organized is the way to go.

Being sick actually helps in the editing process because I don’t feel like leaving my little edit bay cave.  Probably not the healthiest option, but maybe being sick during all the grunt work for big projects is the way to go.

Now I need to deal with 12 videos instead of blogging!

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Filed under Alison Hydrick

Traveling in Chaos, Traveling is Chaos

Dragging mufflers, Panama riots, quick layover, tripod trouble…what else could go wrong traveling?

Before I begin my story, I just wanted to say that we did, in fact, make it back to America safely. What we had to go through to get back to the states, however, was almost unbelievable.

It all began at the villas. We were all packed up and ready to leave when we noticed that the other groups van’s muffler was dragging the ground. Considering that the driver, Luis, was apparently an insane driver, this didn’t really come as such a surprise. It was more agitating than anything. At this point everyone wanted to be home and this was not something we really wanted to deal with. Despite the attitudes, Randy was a trooper. He attempted to fix the problem with a coat hanger (perfect solution if you asked me) and rig it to where the muffler could hold up in time to get us to the airport.

It ended up that we had to stuff the people from the other group and their equipment in our van and Victoria’s car. It was a tight fit, to say the least. I believe that poor Monica had to sit on Greg’s lap the entire 45 minute drive there. My legs even fell asleep from loading all kinds of equipment on my lap to make room for the extra people.

The next problem? Panama City protests. I believe I mentioned in a previous post that there was a problem with receiving clean water in Panama City due to the overabundance of floods for the season? Well, the water cleaning system couldn’t keep up, broke, and caused thousands of people to go without water for days. Needless to say, more than a few of those thousands were pissed off. Hence, they started protesting THE DAY we left. Great timing huh?

The van driver, therefore, had to figure out a way to avoid all the protests that were happening on the highway. The only other route to the airport? To go through the middle of the city! Awesome right? It took us 5x longer than it would have if we would have had access to the highway. And you know how it goes. Once one highway shuts down, the other streets crowd with extra cars, wall-to-wall traffic begins to happen, and there are wrecks which FURTHER hold up traffic. It’s a vicious cycle. A vicious cycle that was causing us to be even LATER for our flight.

By the time we got to the airport and checked in, we had only a half hour to spare. I stopped by Subway to grab a quick sub (cause I was absolutely starving at this point) and lets just say their Subway was not up to par. Not only was it at the other end of the airport from my terminal gate, but it didn’t have the options of provolone or bacon. I’m a southern girl, so I love bacon. Regardless, I scarfed it down and climbed onto the plane. When we landed in Miami, we had only an hour to pick up our bags, recheck our bags and go through security. It was INTENSE.

A few of us darted through all the steps and made it passed security just in time to see that “OH WAIT” poor Alison wasn’t let through security check point. Apparently the tripod equipment that she had been carrying ALL trip was just now being stopped by security because it was “too long” to be considered a carry on. It was ridiculous. A great example of the inconsistencies of TSA. We had gotten from Raleigh to Miami, Miami to Panama City, and from Panama City BACK to Miami without any trouble. So here we were, on the last leg of our trip, and poor Alison couldn’t get through security with the camera tripod. The lady told her to check it in, but she found another security check point and just slide by there. It was that simple. Go figure.

After all the trouble, we finally landed in Raleigh at 11pm and boy, it could not have been any sweeter. When we hit Miami, I didn’t really realize how much I missed the Carolinas because it was just so nice to be back in the states where they sell such food items as bacon and provolone cheese at our subways.  Maybe I just really love Americanized food chains, I’m not sure. But sweet sweet Carolina, I missed you. I do NOT miss the cold however. Temperatures dropped from mid-80s in Panama City to low 30’s in Raleigh. Yay for winter weather.

Boy, do I miss the sunshine and tropical lifestyle. It’s crazy to think that just a few days ago I was feeding peanuts to a monkey on a tour of the Panama Canal. I will say, in North Carolina’s defense, that I do not miss taking cold showers or the bugs that liked to attack me in my sleep.

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Filed under Hayley Miller

Traveling Adventures

We made it!

After the crazy day we had on Thursday traveling out of Panama and back to the States, it is nothing short of a miracle that we all made it home alive and in one piece!

The first problem was our vans! We asked for two vans to pick up our group at 12 noon, giving us several hours to get to the airport and get through customs and make it to our flight in plenty of time. Thank God we gave ourselves so much extra time! One of our vans came 20 minutes late, and the other came 30 minutes late. The van that came first loaded everyone up quickly and began to take off for the airport. We all heard a strange dragging noise coming from underneath the van. As the driver got out and looked under the van, we all discovered that the vans muffler was dragging the ground. After several attempts to tack up the muffler with hangers, they finally gave up, unloaded all the passengers, and when the second van came, all piled up into one van. Yes, we fit about 15 passengers into a ten passenger van. Victoria, our translator carried some of the luggage and the other straggling passengers that could not be squeezed into the larger van.

Somehow, we all fit into the van, and began to take off for the airport. And then… oh no! A huge water protest is going on in Panama, blocking off several of the streets and causing a huge traffic jam in the open streets. This delayed our trip to the airport considerably. We were all saying our individual prayers that we would somehow, by the grace of God, make it to the airport.

Somehow, we did. After carefully navigating through the crowded streets of Panama City, our driver Ariel made it to the airport. Once there, we piled out of the van, grabbed our stuff and ran to the check in point. First flight check!

Then, our connecting flight in the miami airport also proved to be hectic. We were sprinting through the airports to make it through customs and get all the way to the other side of the airport to our gate. In the midst of all the stress, our group gets split up and we arrive at our gate, small groups at a time. The last person was Greg, and as we’re all boarding the plane, we keep looking back hoping to see him come around that corner. Sure enough, right before we board the plane, Greg makes it!

This trip has been the most exciting and stressful and memorable time of my life. I have to say that our adventures in the airport were pretty appropriate for our tone of the week!

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Filed under Erika Holland