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From Port-au-Prince to Panathinaiko

29 Oct

Leo in Port-au-Prince

Well I’ve finally finished the second Haiti piece I was working on. This one, shot in Athens with a little help from the lovely and ever-so-talented Ms. Sanders, follows Team Haiti during their competition at the 2011 Special Olympics World Games. I followed them during their games, some of their downtime and at the closing ceremonies, which were held in the historic Panathinaiko stadium.

I can’t tell you how incredible it was for these kids to be there. They have never left their hometown, much less been able to travel and see the kinds of things they saw. Special Olympics also had events there to help athletes like the Haiti kids, such as the Healthy Athletes program, which put them all through complete physicals and examined their eyesight, hearing, etc. For athletes from impoverished areas like Haiti, this may be the first opportunity any of them have had to get a physical exam. It was certainly a first for many of the Haiti athletes. Gedeon discovered he needed glasses and he was fitted for some and they were given to him for free. It’s things like this that make Special Olympics such an incredible program and one I’m so glad to have worked with.

Anyway, you can see the video below, or if that doesn’t work you can view it here: http://vimeo.com/31159515

Oh and also, I don’t think we ever published the photos from our trip to Haiti in April. So I’ve uploaded them to my Flickr, where you can check them out! Most of them were taken by Shannon, she’s great with photography! Check them out here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mbgarner/sets/72157627634402530/

And let us know what you think in the comments!

Love,
Megan


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Big Changes

3 Oct
Shannon wrangles the trash

Trash wrasslin'

Well guys, as you probably already know, Shannon is no longer residing here with me and the fishes. She is now a video intern at CNN! We found out about a week and a half ago about an internship there, and both applied and Shannon got it!

She’s now in Atlanta for the next two months and today was her first day. Wooo! I’m sure she was crazy nervous and whatnot, but we all know she’ll do great. And if there’s ever any doubt, she can just show them her trash wrasslin skillz.

-Megan

Getting Our Thesis On!

9 Sep

Hey everyone!

Shannon and I are back from Africa and back from our Arkansas vacations! And now it’s time to get serious about our thesis projects. *gulp* We have until December to get them filmed, edited, get our websites designed and complete about a million other things, so we are definitely feeling the pressure.

But progress is being made! I’ve started a blog for my thesis, and I have some interviews set up next week, so with any luck I’ll be able to at least post a short trailer video sometime fairly soon. If you want to follow along on my thesis journey, you can check out the blog at: http://punishablebydeath.wordpress.com/. And you can read exactly what my plans are on the about page of that blog. I’ll try to post some updates on my thesis here, but mostly, I’ll be posting on that blog, since I don’t want to be redundant. So if you’re interested, go ahead and subscribe. There’s a subscribe box at the bottom of the home page.

Shannon also has a blog going for her thesis, which is a look at the changing face of AIDS in today’s society. You can keep up with everything Shannon is working on and where she is going here: http://lifewithaids.wordpress.com/. I think she’ll be posting her videos or at least some of them as she progresses…so you should subscribe to hers too!

Shannon and I both have to travel quite a bit for our projects, and in today’s trying financial times, grants are hard to come by. So we are both going to put our projects up on a website called Kickstarter. Kickstarter describes itself as “a new way to fund and follow creativity.” They allow people to post their projects on the site and ask for help with funding. There is a target goal that must be reached, or else the project doesn’t get funded. So with any luck, we’ll both be able to make our goals and finance our travels!

My Kickstarter page is not up yet, because I’m waiting on a few more pieces of footage so I can post a great video along with my project description. I’m hoping to have it up and running sometime in the next 2 weeks. But Shannon is on the ball and got her Kickstarter page up yesterday! So she now has 30 days to get her funding. If you want to see Shannon’s Kickstarter page and read all about her project (and maybe slip her a few dollars), you can check it out right here. Wish us both lots of luck!

Love,
Megan

Kenya video posted!

6 Sep

Well, I’ve finally gotten around to posting the video Kathryn and I shot and produced in the slums of Mathare, in Kenya. It’s been almost done for a long time, but I kind of went on a mini vacation while I was in Arkansas after returning from Africa, so it’s taken me until now to make those last tiny tweaks. But now it’s up and I hope you all check it out! And let me know what you think!

You can see it on my Vimeo page, here. Yaaay!

Love,
Megan

From Athens to Africa

16 Jul

I finally have a bit of time to sit down and write a blog post, and now I have no idea where to even begin. Also, Shannon is in Lesotho with basically no internet, so I’ll have to try and cover everything solo. Lets see…

Athens was great, even if it was completely crazy. We were going, going, going non-stop from the moment we hit the ground, for the most part. It was tiring and at times completely frustrating, having to work with such a large group of people and try to coordinate with everyone, etc. But it all felt totally worth it for me when I got to see my Ecuador team receive their gold medals (Go Ecuador!) and when I got to sit with the Haiti kids on the last night, during Closing Ceremonies. Two wonderful memories that I cherish. I miss them all so much! And I know Shannon was so excited to be reunited with Donghan, her subject from Korea. He competed in the very first Open Water swimming event and took home a silver medal! And he was really excited to see Shannon, even though he is usually shy and reserved. Super heart warming!

On a less upbeat note, while we were there, the protests that have been going on since May 5, 2010 came to a head and violence erupted in the streets after the June 29 passage of another round of austerity measures. The police attempted to evacuate key protest areas in Athens, like Syntagma Square, with motorbikes and heavy amounts of tear gas. There were numerous accusations of police brutality and unwarranted attacks on citizens there. So like any good journalist, we picked up our cameras and headed to the Square, which was only about 10 minutes from our hotel. It was my first experience with such a charged, potentially dangerous environment and its one I’m still ruminating on. I’ll be writing a separate post about it soon enough, and I’ve already posted my photos on my Flickr page. Shannon also has some kickin footage from the event, which I’m sure will be put up at some point for your viewing pleasure.

After protests and running all over Athens trying to cover every event, we were completely exhausted by the time we left for South Africa, but I still found myself not wanting to say goodbye to Athens. It’s so lovely there, and it’s just a more relaxing lifestyle, with more emphasis on enjoying and savoring life and friends and family. I found myself getting by most of the time on the kindness of strangers, like the cab driver who had to stop twice for directions to the venue I was trying to get to. He spoke zero English, but kept reassuring me that we would find it, and when I finally got there and forgot my map, he came back and flagged me down to give it to me, smile and wish me a good day. I had a policeman give me his seat as I waited for my ride, and every single Special Olympics volunteer I asked for directions was overwhelmingly nice, oftentimes walking me to where I needed to be or offering to carry some of my gear. Those Greeks sure are nice. I miss them.

But we had to say goodbye and we headed off to South Africa, arriving during the South African Arts Festival, which is kind of huge apparently. We had four days to just relax and enjoy some of the festival, and try to collect ourselves before jetting off again. We saw some cool shows, like this South African dance-off thing that was incredible, some traditional Rajasthan dancing and music (made me miss India), some South African jazz, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I had no idea who they were, but they are a Grammy-winning all male choral group that sings traditional South African music and apparently, they are a big deal. Like, really big deal. Go read that wikipedia link, it will tell you all about them.

And then we all packed our bags and headed out to shoot our individual stories. Shannon and Brian are doing a story about AIDS orphans in Lesotho and Kathryn and I are filming a story in Nairobi, Kenya about poverty and hunger in the slums of Mathare! I’ll be doing a separate post about Kenya soon and I know Shannon wants to blog about her experiences in Lesotho as well, so more details will be coming soon! In the meantime, here’s some World Games/Athens photos for you to check out. Hooray!

Love,
Megan

Hello from Athens!

26 Jun

Hey there all!

We’re here and loving Greece! It’s beautiful here and the food is great, the people are wonderful and our Special Olympics events are full of stress and sweat and joy. 🙂

Last night we shot the Opening Ceremonies, which was unbelievable. We were able to film the Athletes Parade, where all the teams march into the stadium. It takes about two hours for all the countries to walk in, so it was quite an event, but it was so much fun! Everyone was so excited and you could just feel the energy every time a new team came out. And we got to see our friends from Haiti, Ecuador and Korea! In fact, Shannon’s Korea subject, Dong Han, got to carry the torch on its journey around the stadium before the final torch, the Flame of Hope, was lit. And speaking of the stadium, the ceremony was held in Panathinaiko Stadium, which was built way back in 566 BC, and was the site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. You can read more about it and see photos here, but basically, it’s a huge deal to have been able to even go there, much less to walk around with a camera inside the stadium!

So now that the games are kicking off, we’ll be crazy busy, filming events and medal ceremonies and everything in between. We’ll try to keep you updated, and maybe post some videos or something when we get them finished! We haven’t had time to walk around much and take photos, but here’s a few silly moments from our first few days…

Love,
Megan

Going to Greece!

22 Jun

Longest time between updates ever, I know. Things kind of went haywire after Haiti, with finals and projects and scrambling, scrambling, scrambling. A lot happened between then and now, but basically the short version is we moved into a new place, which we love love love so much more, we worked on a lot of video projects, we passed all our classes in the spring and we just finished our last round of classes for the summer! Which means we are both officially done with college classes FOREVER! AAAAAHHHHH!!!

I feel like my family is reading that line and going “We never thought this day would come!” Whatever guys. Don’t push it, or I’ll go for a PhD!

Anyways, at some point I will get around to posting Haiti pics, because Shannon got some really great ones and we would love to share them with you. Eventually. But that’s not going to happen right now, because we are about to get on a plane to Greece!

We leave in a few hours headed to Athens to cover the Special Olympics World Games, and we are SO EXCITED. We get to see all our subjects from our previous stories and watch them compete and see people like Stevie Wonder! Then when the games are over, we are traveling to Africa to do stories on the United Nations Millenium Development Goals. The MDGs consist of 8 anti-poverty goals meant to be completed by 2015. They include:
Ending Poverty and Hunger
Universal Education
Gender Equality
Child Health
Maternal Health
Combat AIDS/HIV
Environmental Sustainability
Global partnership

The class above us already did some stories on these goals last year, which you can check out here: http://mdg.glocalstories.org/  (you have to click on the stories button in the top right corner)

We will be adding to that group of stories. We will be in South Africa most of the time, but will travel out in teams to surrounding countries to do the stories. Shannon and Brian will be working on a story about AIDS orphans in Lesotho, I will be working with Kathryn on a story about farming in the slums of Kenya and our friend Chris will be doing a followup story to the piece on the website I mentioned about the largest slum in Nigeria. It’s going to be really exciting!

I’d like to promise that we will update often and write amazing blog posts about everything going on and post lots of pictures and whatnot, but we will probably be really busy and whenever we do have spare time, I doubt we will want to spend it in front of a computer. But we’ll update as much as we can, even if it’s just a short post or a photo.

In the meantime, Shannon and I both posted some new videos on our Vimeo accounts, so you can go check them out! Mine can be seen here: http://vimeo.com/megangarner and Shannon’s can be seen here: http://vimeo.com/user5333417. Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!

Love,
Megan