A thank you, and a thank you

Last week, I attended the 2011 kickoff dinner for the Bay Area Professional Videographers Association, a group I joined in 2009. Amazingly, they decided to give me a Volunteer Service Award for the work I did with The SOLD Project. I’ve received a lot of congratulations, and I’ve felt so honored and humbled that such talented videographers would decide my video was good enough for selection.

As proud as I am about this, the recognition is unevenly distributed. The fear I have in writing this post is that some might think I’m unappreciative or trivializing the honor of receiving the award. I really hope it’s not taken that way, I don’t want to exude false humility under the pretense of saying it was undeserved. But I hope people realize that my short trip is a tiny gesture compared to the incredible work of so many others who have sacrificed far more than myself to further SOLD’s cause of ending child prostitution and human trafficking in Thailand.

I took 2 months last year to volunteer for SOLD, came back home, put a little promo video together, and got back to “normal life.” Meanwhile, the staff at the organization have spent years of their life working tirelessly toward the cause, and volunteers have spent up to almost a year pouring themselves into the project and their sponsored kids.

I am inspired by and in awe of my lovely sister Rachel, her husband Kevin, Nate and Rachel Sparks-Graeser, Tawee Donchai, Plah Chermui, Michael Manes, Michael and Heather Colletto, Deirdre Flynn (aka P’Dara), Shannon O’Malley, and so many others who have been involved with SOLD. And there are still other remarkable souls in Chiang Rai who are living out their passion for social justice by getting up every morning and selflessly choosing to make a difference.

Every single person listed above deserves a trophy room of awards for the real difference they’re making through their remarkable perseverance. These people truly inspire me in a way I can’t explain short of introducing them, and I hope that others are aware of just how much recognition they deserve. I’m honored by the award I’ve received, but my work is a small piece of the puzzle in a much larger cause. If you know any of these amazing individuals, please let them know how awesome they are. :)

Thank you again to BAPVA for the incredible honor, and thank you to those who are making a difference in Northern Thailand.

Advertisements

Coming home


Photo by Rachel Goble Carey

Responding to the question I get so often, “How was Thailand?” is impossible to answer in a blog post, let alone a word or a sentence. The only thing I can say about it completely honestly is: it was an experience.

Those two months were so greatly varied, it’s hard to apply a label even to the “overall” experience. There were highs and lows, successful days of filming and “off-days,” moments of pride and moments of embarrassment, days of feeling beaten back by the insurmountably rampant sex trade, and days of hopefulness in SOLD’s work.

As far as the primary reason I went over there, to film footage for The SOLD Project, I think we were very successful, and I hope the short time I spared makes a difference in their work. I thought that seven weeks of filming would present challenges for finding something new to shoot, but we always seemed to be busy capturing footage. At the same time, I don’t feel like I needed to stay there longer to get what we needed, seven weeks was just about the right amount of time.

We traveled to the red light districts of Bangkok, the beaches of Phuket, the busy markets of Chiang Mai, the rice fields of Chiang Rai, and everywhere in between. I don’t have an exact count, but in total I captured around 35 hours of footage. I also put a short video together, which is embedded below (the amazing score was composed by my brother in law, Kevin). Working on this project made me even more passionate about SOLD’s mission, and I hope the video brings in support for them and helps raise awareness about the tragedy of child prostitution.

Although the video was the main focus of my trip, it’s impossible not to get attached to certain aspects of a country when you live there for two months. It grew into more than a project or a vacation or an adventure; it became my home. I used to think that traveling meant sampling a culture, getting a taste of it, and then going home. My perspective has changed, and I can’t imagine myself ever “vacationing” again after digging into a culture and feeling like a part of it. It has, without trying to be too hyperbolic, changed my perspective on the world. At least to some degree.

It may already be obvious by my being vague, but I’m still processing a lot of the trip. I fell in love with the country and didn’t want to leave, but at the same time I’m thankful to be back home with friends and family (and hot water). I’ve been enacting my plan for returning to school and finally finishing my degree, getting back to editing weddings and putting together my videography company, and working my old job at PathLight. The Bay Area is my home, and despite missing the culture, the lifestyle, the friends I made, and the language of Thailand, this is where I should be right now, and I’m content with taking the experience of Thailand home with me, keeping a part of the country alive in how I continue to live my life.

I’d love to go back some day, and in fact, I intend to. But if I don’t get that chance, I’ll always look back on those seven weeks and remind myself that that was one of the larger steps that made me into my current self. I’ve grown from it, in so many ways.

Please excuse the mushy-gushy language that might be out of character for me. There are still a lot of emotions and incomplete thoughts that I have about the trip, and I was even reluctant to post this before they’re all settled into place. I’ll post here in the coming weeks to share some of the more specific aspects of the experience. Until then, enjoy the video, and leave a comment if there’s anything specific you’d like to know about the trip.


To share on your Facebook wall, paste the following link to your status, and the video should automatically embed:
http://vimeo.com/17584837

Praise

Related: Rachel’s post, Kevin’s post.

On October 12 I arrived in Phuket, Thailand, for a little pre-trip rest, acclimation, and a chance to get over jet lag. It was me, my sister, my brother in law, and our friend Praise, who was a bridesmaid in Rachel’s wedding.

We spent a few days together, enjoying the beaches, exploring the tiny island, and sampling some strange delicacies. I was reminded of Praise’s wonderful heart and ceaselessly loving personality. Even though it rained through our whole stay, she brought joyfulness to those overcast days. A few days later she flew to Singapore to spend some time with her father and brother, and then went home to California.

Searching my inbox for her name is surreal. E-mails dated just a week ago alert me about comments she’s left on Facebook videos, her laughing at my pictures of the kids from the resource center … everything was normal. Then, e-mails marked just a few days later notify me of her trips to the hospital, friends searching desperately for anyone who could help the doctors figure out the cause, and finally, a message letting us all know what happened. I have this snapshot of the past week, this timeline, all in one window, and from this vantage point it’s shocking to see just how sudden the shift was.

This was just a few days ago that we found out, when Rachel, Kevin and I were staying at a hotel in Bangkok. The early morning phone call hit us all like a freight train. Rachel had looked up information about her viral infection the night before, but we passed it off thinking, “She has good doctors, she’s young, she’s a healthy person … I’m sure she’ll recover.” As I write this, I’m still in utter disbelief. Perhaps partly because we’re half a world away from her grieving friends who are reminiscing and planning the memorial service. It doesn’t seem possible that this is something that could occur within our sphere of existence.

I wish I could say more about my reaction to this, my feelings, or a more insightful reflection. But the truth is that none of it is real to me yet. I wish I had more insight, but I’m at a loss for what to say. I don’t know if it will eventually hit me, or if I just need time to process, or if it will always feel like something that happened in a bad dream.

Without hyperbole, I can confidently say that Praise was perhaps the sweetest, most loving, and most genuine person of anyone I’ve known. The world suffered a great loss with her passing, and her life was a blessing to all who knew her. Please keep her family and friends in your thoughts and prayers as they continue to process this, to mourn, and to go through the hardest of their grieving in the coming weeks. May they find strength and peace.

jedd goble

Cinematographer of Two Story Films. I'm passionate about film and the way that stories can shape the world and change our perspectives.

subscribe

categories