traveled 20,000 miles by air and 2,000 miles by car, shooting 25
hours of digital video and taking 700 still photos. They interviewed
more than 20 people, learning about the tragedy of rampant HIV on
the African continent.
member J. McMerty and Elon faculty member Tom Arcaro spent two weeks
in July traveling to Namibia and working on a special Project Pericles-funded
mission. They spoke with many concerned Namibians, from leaders
of non-profit organizations to teachers with HIV.
of this project is to make both people in the U.S. and Namibia more
aware of what is being done to stop or at least slow down the killer
disease," said McMerty.
funds such efforts to foster community engagement by faculty and
staff members through service sabbaticals and general-studies courses.
Elon University has also selected a group of students to be Periclean
Scholars. The students will work with the footage McMerty and Arcaro
brought back, creating mini-documentaries as a class assignment.
also produce a 30-minute documentary about a special group of young
Namibians they encountered in their travels. "These teens educate
all different groups through songs and dramas," he said.
was complicated but rewarding.
"We met with
the Namibian Ministry of Film, where we made plans to work together
in promoting their country as a great place to film and in return
they waived many of our costs for filming," McMerty said. "The Ministry
of Information and Broadcasting provided a producer/director/translator
for us - that was a great help."
McMerty have applied for funding for a return to Namibia in January.
"We want to take two communications students and two Periclean scholars
back to do follow-up interviews as well as shoot more cover footage,"
has left both Arcaro and McMerty glowing about the potential of
"We are using
our resources and the skills we possess to make a difference in
the world - even if it is small, I feel it's important," McMerty
said. "This is an opportunity that doesn't come along very often,
and it changed me. I realize how lucky I am for all the things in
my life. I realize that we worry about very ridiculous problems.
I also realize that it is nice to work in a supportive environment
like Elon where dreams can become reality with hard work and dedication.
our finished projects will inspire people to pitch in and help with
this pandemic that faces Africa as a whole and specifically Namibia.
I would like the documentary that we are producing to simply tell
the stories of the people we met, in their words."