Jenna van de Ruit '15, International Internship, Chile
While on a Dickey International Internship during Winter term 2014, Jenna van de Ruit '15 filmed a documentary in Chile in collaboration with Fundación Mujer Levántate, an organization that provides halfway housing, job networking, and other services to inmates and ex-inmates.
Jenna originally planned to focus her documentary on the stories of three or four women living there. However, most of the women were working long hours during the week and Jenna was only allowed there during limited hours.
But Jenna managed to interview Raquel, an ex-inmate who had been out for five months but who also was the janitor of Fundación Mujer Levántate. Raquel poured out her story to Jenna, who recognized it was a compelling story that could stand on its own.
"I had never undertaken a project this challenging before," says Jenna. "I was new at a language, in a foreign country, learning a technical skill while working with a topic of a difficult nature."
Jenna met with Raquel almost every day for about six weeks. Their conversations dealt with emotional sensitive issues, including rape, domestic abuse, death, prison life and familial relationships.
"I loved using documentary as a means to explore issues, form relationships, and ask questions that I might normally never ask," explains Jenna. In the process, she learned a great deal about cinematography, improved her Spanish, and developed a much deeper appreciation for the challenges faced by women in Chile.