The students from Diné College of Tsaile, Arizona, on the Navajo Nation, and Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota, are staying in touch with each other via cell phones, email, Facebook, Skype, etc.
The whole class meets on Friday morning (June 24, 2011) via Interactive Television to get updates on the progress on the documentary films featuring Navajo elders, and to view the first drafts.
I know many people are eager to view the final projects. We won't be able to release them for public viewing for a few weeks yet. The pieces will be viewed by the class members several times, checked and double-checked for accuracy and also for cultural sensitivity. Once we're confident the pieces respectfully and compellingly tell the elder's stories, they will be released for viewing on the WSU Mass Communication department's web site: Winona360.org.
(If you wish, visit that site and search "Navajo" and you'll be able to watch the media piece videos completed by the Navajo Oral History projects in 2009 and 2010.)
By September, DVD versions will be produced to give to the featured elders and their families, and to archive at the Navajo Nation Museum, Navajo Nation Library, and the libraries at both Winona State University and Diné College.
In October, the class will host two receptions to premiere the films: one in Winona, Minnesota, and one in Tsaile, Arizona.
Even though the 2.5 weeks of field work on the Navajo Nation is complete, the work goes on.
I'm so proud of the work of all students in the class.
The Diné College students were helpful and accommodating. They kindly and tactfully helped the visiting students understand the culture and learn about Navajo life and values.
The Winona State University students shared their knowledge and expertise with journalism, visual journalism, equipment, technology and software with each other and with their DC student teammates.
Throughout the field work, the students got along, helped each other, enjoyed each other's company, laughed a lot ... and learned.
To use an over-used cliché, this Navajo Oral History project is a classic win-win situation: The students learn by doing and gain confidence and professionalism while developing great portfolio pieces; and The Navajo Nation gains a series of very professional documentary films that help preserve and protect important life stories of Navajo elders.
Keep watching the blog for updates ... We'll keep you posted as work on the documentaries progresses.