This past weekend I had the chance to travel around Ukraine to find out exactly what Community Development volunteers do for Peace Corps Ukraine. After this journey, I strongly envied Anthony Bourdain. Finally, a chance to meet new and interesting people. The journey began a few months ago when I was meeting with our Lead Specialist (LS) about the workload of my new Volunteer Lead position.
We concluded that part of the job description will be to help increase the marketability of the Community Development track (CD track). Whether it be going to conferences, developing material for site identification, or making videos which highlight the strengths of the CD track. The position does not officially start until next year. However, Our LS and I have been eager for the work to begin and have tried to find ways to start as soon as possible. Last week this possibility came up when I was in the office for the final step of my extension clearance, a medical exam.
Before I came to Kyiv for the medical checkup I told our LS that I would be in the office and I would swing by his office if he was in. This was a way to say, “Hey, I am ready to start working as a Volunteer Lead, if you have marching orders.” I popped into his office after my doctor’s appointment. I could tell he was busy so I muffled my agenda and listened for him to lay out his desires. He began to talk about an annual forum in November with NGO’s from throughout Ukraine which Peace Corps was invited to for the first time. He asked if I would be interested in presenting at the forum and also wanted me to create a video about the Peace Corps which would be shown at the forum.
My first thought, “it is about time a challenge is thrown my way, but I will need a director.” That is when I thought of recruiting Dane Steeves. I remembered that he shared some quality videos about his travels in Europe on Youtube. I told Roman, “If Dane is in, we can create something before the deadline.” Shortly after, I messaged Dane and the ball began to roll. We had to begin production ASAP. Both of our schedules were about to get very busy and there is a lot of work that goes into a 7 minute outcome.
Within a few day, I sent in my travel forms to our main office and bought my tickets to Vinnystia (the closest major city to Dane). From there we began to game plan. Dane and I had about 4 hours to create a storyboard before we began shooting at the first site. Our plan involved two scenes in Vinnystia. The next step was a short bus ride to Bar (Dane’s site) to film about the work done by Dane and his counterpart in their city. Lastly, we visited the Community Development superstar, Alan Young. Each clip particularly selected to attract the nest Volunteers and the best host organizations.
After over 24 hours of travel, 3 days of filming, and 1 day of editing we were able to create a quality production (A.K.A. Bae approved production). It was not easy, but we pulled it off. And, I look forward to the video debut next month. A special shout out to Dane, Eric, Catherine, Alan, and Andre. Without you the production would not have been such a success.
*These are the thoughts and ideas of Richard J. Roman and are not those of the Peace Corps or its affiliates.