Well, maybe not a major motion picture, but at least a series of videos featuring real Peace Corps volunteers! As part of the celebration of the Peace Corps 50th anniversary, a film crew is visiting volunteers in several countries around the world to show them at work in their communities. We were pleased to be among six Peace Corps Mexico volunteers selected to be the subject of one of the videos.
We met Chris, the video director, and Neil, the cameraman, at their hotel in downtown Querétaro at 9:00 am to plan the day’s shoot. They had previously asked us to recommend sites and local contacts that would reflect both the character of the city and our regular activities here. We took them first to the Jardín Zenea, thinking that it would be a beautiful backdrop for some general interview questions. It wasn’t long before we learned the realities of film making! First of all, the position of the sun wasn’t optimum, then there was too much traffic noise from the nearby street, and — who could have known? — local maintenance crews were trimming the grass when we got there. So we walked up the Andador 5 de Mayo and sat with one of the fountains behind us for the initial interview. Why had we joined the Peace Corps? What were our assignments here? Did we feel that we were making a difference? Finally, Neil asked us to walk up the Andador toward his camera for a local color shot, which we did three times until he was satisfied!
The next stop was the CIATEQ technology center on the outskirts of town. Juliet has been working on an effort to form an alliance among CIATEQ, CIDESI, and CIDETEQ, the three CONACYT centers in Querétaro, to provide engineering services to the growing aeronautics industry here. CIATEQ has an aeronautics lab which served as the background for Juliet and Ingeniero Alcántara, her contact for the project, to discuss next steps for the alliance. Our original hope was to use the huge autoclave there, which is used to fabricate parts made from composite materials at high temperatures, as part of the video. Film making lesson #2 — things never work when you most need them! Technical problems make it impossible to open the autoclave, so the filming went on using other equipment. The Ingeniero, who speaks excellent English, was interviewed and commended both Juliet’s efforts and the support of Peace Corps.
The final location shooting took place at El Puente de Esperanza, the non-profit organization where Charlie works, which supports the education of young people from poor families in Querétaro State. Another film school lesson — enthusiastic kids make for a great scene! Charlie offered a brief, impromptu English pronunciation lesson to a group of about 15 young people who appeared on a moment’s notice. El Puente Director Leonor Noriega and Board President Betsy Charlot were present to give their support to the video. Sra. Charlot, a fluent speaker of English, gave a moving interview in which she described her involvement with El Puente and the collaboration of Peace Corps volunteers from the start of the organization.
We had a great day with the film crew and appreciated the help we got from our workplace and community partners. And one final lesson — even though we had a wonderful experience in front of the camera, Angelina and Brad have nothing to fear from us!