"Media is a Mirror"

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December 3rd, 2020

At the age of 14, an English teacher handed me a flyer for a youth media training program. I applied to DCTV Youth Media and upon acceptance the film instructors immediately challenged me to redefine community and think critically about the media I watched. They taught me to ask questions, and to examine and dissect the layers of social issues in order to uncover new truths and new perspectives. Our classes took place in a firehouse in Chinatown, yet each week, every lesson took us beyond New York City, connecting the dots between our lives and people of different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences.

During my second year in the program I stood in the streets of New Orleans in the midst of broken glass, documenting the remnants of devastation, hope, and perseverance of the people affected. The immersion into this disaster presented a new perspective about the harsh reality of the America I live in. It was a lot to process but I was not alone. My teachers guided each step of the way, supporting me and three other young women as we processed it all and created our first documentary about the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, Not as Seen On TV. This was one of many experiences that shaped the way I teach and mentor youth to create films about topics such as civil rights, immigration, mental health and poverty, through their unique lens.

Education is critical in equipping artists to effectively understand, create, and share multilayered stories, especially as we analyze the complexities of race, politics, and disparities in our country. Media is a mirror, and the capacity for a reflection to be distorted is why media literacy/education is key in holding space for listening and engaging in conversations that lead to change. Through resources such as virtual workshops, panel discussions, screening and talkback sessions, I have seen selflessness, strength, and steadfastness among teaching artists bridging the gap between story development and life development.

Before I pushed the power button on a camera, I was taught to push the boundaries within my mind. To be a storyteller is to be an active thinker and education has honed my insight, taking me on a journey beyond what I could physically see or imagine. I have had extraordinary teachers during my lifetime who went above and beyond to create a transformative learning experience. Witnessing the way in which their devotion translated to changed lives is why I take this time to honor teachers around the world.

To the DCTV team and educators everywhere - thank you for your service. You are not just essential in a pandemic. You are essential always.

Sade Falebita,
DCTV Acting Managing Director


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