For those of you who don’t know me yet, my name is Emily Tamfo and for the last few months I have been interning for the Sentinel Project as part of the Media and the Public Interest program at the University of Western Ontario. My time with SP is now coming to a close and I’ve been reflecting on all the things I’ve learned over the past few months with fond memories, so I would like to take this opportunity to share some of my experiences.
This internship was a unique learning experience. In my academic career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with countless organizations dealing with issues varying from children’s health to provincial politics. However, I’ve always had difficulty finding opportunities relevant to my education; as my program is focused on the historical and current uses of media for combating social injustices, opportunities in this sector have proven to be rare. The Sentinel Project was the perfect environment to apply my academic knowledge to a real-world setting.
Though my many professors and lecturers have reiterated the importance and utility of media, seeing how media can be used to make a true impact on the lives of others has validated every lesson, theory, and philosophy I have learned in my undergraduate career. It’s been comforting to know that through the media almost anyone can have agency in directing the political, social, and cultural futures of their surroundings, and that there are people out there, like the ones I met at the Sentinel Project, who want to represent those who have been denied that privilege.
My favourite experience with SP this semester was working on the Human Rights Watch Film Festival screening of Granito. I learned a lot throughout the process that I will undoubtedly apply to both my academic and professional careers. Speaking with Rachel Hatcher about her experiences as a researcher in Guatemala provided me with a perspective on genocide that I would have never have considered otherwise. I came to realize that although I’ve researched genocide countless times, it has always been a distant concept for me – always been an issue of “the other” – and there is nothing like hearing about the experience of genocide from someone who is living in its aftermath.
Watching Granito and listening to the director, Pamela Yates, talk about the motivation and influence of the film has inspired me to learn more about the injustices that surround me and find out what I can personally do to bring these injustices to light. Even in the realm of social media, I’ve learned how people have used it to facilitate an atmosphere of truly democratic discussion to not only inform themselves, but to also educate others who may not have otherwise sought out that information on their own. My time with SP has confirmed that I want to pursue a career in media and social justice and I look forward to applying all the lessons I’ve learned here to other experiences in my future.
Thank you to everyone who made this experience possible for me, especially Chris, Lisa, and Monika. I’ve truly appreciated all of your guidance and support and even though my internship has ended, I hope that I can continue working with you in the near future.