Dec Retreat- Developing our project and my own views

I lost all my work so I had to recreate this post. This is more or less what I had written at the end of the retreat

Team Growth

This second retreat came at a great time. Our team had accomplished quite a lot in the past month but we were quickly heading for a plateau in our productivity. We had the background knowledge, the list of people to contact, different questions we could ask and the required motivation but we were quickly running out of next steps and we didn’t know exactly how we were going to go about documenting this story. Through the talks, videos and presentation we were lifted up, educated and re-inspired. Jason Mittell gave a great and very in depth presentation on documentary filming techniques. We learned about types of characters in a documentary and how to best frame them so that they best serve their purpose. This got me thinking about how to divide our interviewees into experts and characters and how we could film them accordingly. We were also taught about the flow of a documentary which inspired me to think about different kinds of shots, the contrast between scenes and different ways in which a conversation could be documented.

After hearing Jason speak and further enlighten us to the process of filmmaking the ideas were once again flowing. Later we had further discussions and watched talks about both story telling and perspectives. As my team and I talked we began to see glimpses of what our final piece would look like. We have a game plan, we know more or less what shots we want, what strategies we will use and what people we want to have conversations with. Our team is also determined to keep an open mind and accept that a lot has yet to unfold, but we know we’re on a good track.

Personal Growth

This retreat not only caused our project to further develop but also helped solidify a personal development that had been slowly evolving over the past years. As I grow and mature I acquire more and more opinions and convictions. I started to really understand and refine my own world view when I was in middle school around 8th grade. I was a strong atheist, I believed in a certain idea of social justice, I had specific ideas of right and wrong, acceptable and offensive. I became vegan and had very strong views on health, environmental and ethical issues relating to animal agriculture. With these passionate views in place there was left little room for accepting alternate beliefs.

Over a period of years I gained new experiences and started to soften my views and incorporate more nuance in my perspectives. While I remain an atheist my aversions to religion were challenged when I attended a talk organized by one of my history teachers. During the talk Middlebury College students from each of the three major monotheisms spoke about their different experiences with their faith and allowed questions from the audience. This experience allowed me to be more empathetic and not feel so strongly about things that aren’t important to me. Other less specific events brought me even more nuance in my beliefs. While I stand my moral ground I find less things to get offended by. I spend less energy complaining about insignificant things and I focus on how I can relate to others as fellow humans instead of striving to create “us vs them” dynamics.

While watching the TED talk on perspective I could feel my moral journey being stabilized. It brought to me the insight and depth that I had been subconsciously craving and working towards.

I know what I believe and why I make the choices that I do, but I am no longer “morally righteous” and I do not push my ideology as being right.


Kati Tolgyesi

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