Mae Vader is an Electronic Arts student at Bard College with a focus on film production and studies. This summer she participated in PAA’s Film internship in South Africa.
My name is Mae, and for preparation’s sake, I am very blunt. I refrain from sugarcoating or the use of excessive enthusiasm, so one can expect to second-handedly witness the truth of my experience. [Editor’s note: the woman who submitted the above picture as her headshot is clearly not messing around.] I went on a five-week excursion and internship to Cape Town, South Africa working with Hardihood films in the summer of 2016.
Originally, I am from Montana, but go to school in upstate New York for film production and studies. Immediately following the semester’s end, I traveled a few long days to the southern hemisphere to begin my journey.
I quickly began to understand that most South Africans I came in contact with were undeniably friendly and easy-going. Ordering a drink at a shop? That person was your best friend of seven years, with tremendous humor present and ease of conversation. This is what I appreciated most about my interactions. The area has a special energy as unique as the people’s accents and languages. The home-stay in which I lived was a beautiful home, minimal strides from the mighty Atlantic just outside of the city. And within the house resided an incredibly welcoming family.
Immediately, I dove into a commercial shoot for a local company, and since our crew was small, there was plenty of hands-on experience with the equipment. Before traveling, I was warned of the racism and crippling poverty that may be present before your eyes, but may appear completely ordinary to those of the country. To be clear, witnessing these attitudes and situations were my greatest struggle. But through patience, I was able to grow beyond this, and see the shimmer of gold beyond the dark history. Alongside my South African companions, I was able to assist in website developing, editing, filming for TV pilots, and writing for advertising.
I became close to those with whom I worked and plan to visit these new friends again someday. Through observation, I picked up parts of the Afrikaans language quickly, of which I enjoy sharing now with my friends and family back home. I even had the opportunity to bask in the presence of Great Whites in the rural countryside of Gansbaai!
These areas always reminded me of the Jurassic Park movies. There is a strange beauty in land seemingly untouched. This experience was one of incredible growth, both learning about various mindsets and cultures, for South Africa is incredibly diverse, as well as developing a newfound appreciation for the small aspects of “home”, wherever that may fall.
I believe ignorance to be something naturally present in all of us, and the duty of life and experience is to chip away at its excavation and extraction. Hear that chisel working?