We Rise Video: Response to COVID-19 (Italy)

Applied ICDWE RISE video, prepared by Class 5B, Liceo Artistico Aldo Passoni [High School of Arts Aldo Passion], Torino, Italy.

NOTE: A prior class of Paola’s won 2nd prize in the CID Video Competition in 2018, and then prepared a reflection on making that video to aid potential 2019 competitors. This video shows how a group might create a video for the 2020 competition, despite quarantine orders.

The idea came in the middle of the eye of the hurricane of COVID-19 in Italy. It was mid-March 2020 and, in the north of Italy where I live, the number of infected people was tripling every day, the hospital system was nearly collapsing, and the death toll was appalling.

I had been meeting my students online regularly. Before starting our lessons on English Literature and Visual Arts, we always had short conversations about how they were, how their family members were, and how they were coping with the situation. Looking at their faces through the screen, I saw their sense of bewilderment, but I also saw their resilience. Their young bodies and their youthful energies were confined, but their minds were not.

Therefore, I thought that maybe we could try together to get out of our physical confinement, and send a message of resilience, solidarity, and hope which could reach other people outside our homes. Yet, such a message was also directed inward to ourselves as an act of resistance and as the possibility to open our inner window on the future.

I proposed that my students make a video in which each of them would read some lines of a poem or a song. Participation was voluntary, yet the majority of them accepted immediately. I looked for some poems on a website which is very well done and which I often use for my lessons too: www.poetryfoundation.org. I chose some lines from four poems which I found particularly inspiring for the purpose we had in mind. I then proposed the poems to the participants: we read the poems together, I translated some parts for them, and then they decided which poem they preferred. Then, each participant read the whole poem that s/he had chosen, recording it on her/his mobile phone or computer. Meanwhile, I had asked a friend of mine, Luca Gasparini, a professional film editor, whether he could edit the different recordings. He accepted immediately and willingly. So, I collected all the different videos and uploaded them for him on a platform. He promptly edited them, and finished in only a few days.

I am so proud of my students! To spread such a message, they accepted to foreground the fragility and the vulnerability of speaking in English, which is not their native language. Even the students who have more difficulties in speaking English agreed to participate, showing that exposing one’s frailty can be a great act of courage. I think they all demonstrated great generosity, hope, and trust.

A final note on the title. The title was inspired by one of the poems, but it was important to convey plurality and solidarity by using use the inclusive pronoun ‘we’ – referring to ‘we’ in the video, but also to ‘we’ in not only our immediate communities, but also in the global community. Then, the verb ‘to rise’ which means ‘to stand up’ and indicates resilience and hope; but at the same time ‘to rise’ also references the rising sun. Therefore, our message also points out that after darkness comes a new dawn.

I hope you like the video!
Paola Giorgis

Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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