Interns and Volunteers
At Video Volunteers, we make a real effort to find every volunteer a project that suits his/her individual skills and interests. Since 2003, more than 40 people have volunteered with Video Volunteers; each one has made an enormous contribution for which we are extremely grateful and many continue to be involved with our work today. Some of them are profiled below.
Siddhant Paul, India
I am a student filmmaker and pursuing my Bachelor of Media Studies (BMS) from Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication (UG), Pune. I want to make films which possibly will move you, set you thinking, surprise or shock you or just amuse you. Documentary films have always inspired me because they are candid and genuine. They bring out pure human emotions and nothing can bring you closer to a story as a real life character, a real hero.
Video Volunteers is a great platform for me to understand the basics of documentary filmmaking as well as the intricacies and sensitivity involved in making one. I am amazed and inspired to see the potential the Community Correspondents of VV have. They are not only efficient communicators but also exhibit courage by standing up and speaking out against unjust practices. VV is stirring up a huge movement with every video of theirs that goes online, and I am happy to have an opportunity to contribute to it.
Leah Breen, USA
Leah Breen is completing a B.A in Government and International Development & Human Rights at Colby College in Maine, USA. Before coming to Video Volunteers, Leah spent three months in Jammu & Kashmir. While there, she volunteered with a female-operated trekking company in Ladakh and lived with Kashmiris in Srinagar who shared with her about the many political and social issues of the region (the majority of which India’s mainstream media does not cover). Leah has a deep interest in social entrepreneurship, and an internship at Ashoka led her to VV to better understand the innovative work of citizen and community media in India. During her short three weeks at VV, Leah’s main project focused on campaign design. VV’s amazing team is her reminder that collaborative energy and dedication to an idea can lead to incredible impacts.
Dave Shraga, UK
“I’m a 2nd year student at the University Of East Anglia, in UK, studying International Development with Anthropology and Politics. I came to VV to learn how community media works as an advocacy tool at the local level, from the people’s perspective. The question I arrived with was, ‘what is it about a video, that brings about the desired ‘social change’ when it’s made by a community?’ What I discovered is that video media creates political spaces for the people to bring about social development in the way that they want it.
I’m inspired by my experiences of growing up in Zimbabwe, the challenges of having a physical disability and by a vision of ‘development’ where communities have the authority to make their own decisions. I believe holistic change can only occur from an intrinsic starting point and therefore video media created at the local level provides an opportunity for holistic development.
Living and working in Goa, with Video Volunteers, restored my beliefs about the priceless value of community as a primary resource for daily life.”
Frieder Piazena, Germany
Frieder Piazena writes interviews, portraits and reports for the Berlin based newspaper “Tagesspiegel”. He is doing his masters in sociology at the Humboldt University of Berlin since 2011 emphasising on urban development, Global South and alternative economies. It is his third time in India and this time, he is running a blog about community journalism and its impact on german foreign correspondence as well as the Indian mainstream media.
Eva Hoffmann, Germany
Eva Hoffmann is studying media and cultural sciences as well as European anthropology in Freiburg, Germany with focus on media ethnography. Specialising on documentary filmmaking, she is interested in how community journalism could also change the image of India reproduced in German news. With interviews, reports and posts, she is running a blog trying to answer this questions together with Frieder. For her, VV provides an inside-view into grassroot activism, that could change foreign stereotypes and images about India.
Alice Willatt, UK
“Interning at VV has been a fantastic opportunity to do this and has provided me with valuable knowledge and understanding for my upcoming postgraduate research, which I hope to start in September. I will never forget my time at the VV office, working with such a creative and passionate team dedicated to social justice and community empowerment.”
During her MA in Documentary Practice, Alice became interested in participatory video and photography. After gaining experience in this field in the UK, alongside voluntary work with NGOs at home and abroad, she wanted to learn more about how video can be used in a community media and development context.
Safdar Rehman, India
Safdar currently teaches a bunch of thirty 9 year-olds in a little school in Delhi to jump, scream, and make funny faces (apart from boring things like math, language and social studies). He did his graduation from Jadavpur University,Calcutta in English Literature and did the rounds of the local theatre and film circuit before meandering into the woods. He does, however, passionately believe that cinema will change the world. At Video Volunteers, he hopes to reconfirm his beliefs.
Sumit Sandhu, India
This free spirited photography instructor from Dehradun has worked with prestigious groups like Marie Claire India magazine, designed fashion booklets, traveled the country. In his 2 months at VV he created a special profile video of VV’s Community Correspondent Mohan Bhuiyan.
Joe Schubert, USA
“I have been inspired and motivated by VV’s staff and by VV’s role in enabling community voices. I think the IndiaUnheard program brings the most important “primary sources”- people- to the forefront in addressing and solving problems. I am very excited to contribute to VV!”
Joe studied international studies and economics at Macalester College (USA), where many of his classes focused on human rights, politics and development. Joe previously lived in China, studying Mandarin and researching environmental changes and economic/cultural livelihoods. Editing through (and enjoying!) piles of student essays in Vietnam piqued his interest in journalism.
Kianna Goodwin, USA
“Working with VV is an amazing way to become involved in community outreach and empower people through the medium of film. I believe filmmaking can create democratic spaces and VV is deeply involved in this process.”
Kianna has loved movies since she was a kid growing up in Venice, California. After she grew up and got degrees in Philosophy and Religious Studies from Macalester College, she worked in production and research for socially aware documentary films such as Waiting for Superman, which focused on the state of education in the U.S. She has also worked in non-profits focusing on education, youth and community arts. She loves traveling and living abroad and spent a year in Vietnam working as a teacher. She hopes to keep exploring other countries, other cities, and other cultures and learn as much as possible along the way.
Lara Chandni, India/France
“The IndiaUnheard program manages to turn an elite art form into a tool of empowerment at the grassroots level. It is a revolutionary concept, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.”
Lara studied literature in Delhi, and art and film in Paris. She came to Video Volunteers to work on the IndiaUnheard project, an initiative which she finds as fascinating as it is unique. At the office in Goa, she has been involved with editing and subtitling the community videos published daily and writing the articles that accompany them.
Deepansh Bhatnagar, India
Deepansh is a Film-making Majors student pursuing Bachelor Of Journalism and Mass Communication from Amity University. He has produced many short films which have traveled in various film festivals. He also has experience in Events and Advertising. At VV he hopes to deepen his understanding of social issues and learn intricacies of film making to create impactful media. He freelances as a video producer, writer, designer and internet consultant.
Anurag Meshram, India
A graduate from Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication, Pune, this shayaar has a specialization in Mass Communication. Originally from Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, Anurag ‘Bhai’, as he is fondly referred to by our Correspondents, documented our IU training and entertained everyone with his hindi songs & hilarious histrionics.
James Hotham, UK
James Hotham was born in England and moved to Hong Kong after completing his university education in the U.K (B.Sc psychology and M.Sc organisational psychology). Influenced by the journalists he encountered in Hong Kong he began to travel and photograph in the Asia region. The lure of photography for James is in its use as a means to document the oppression of specific groups within society. In the last year James has produced a series of stories focussed on the caste system in India and the destruction of historic neighbourhoods in China (www.jameshotham.com). His interest in Video Volunteers is based on VV’s position at the forefront of community media, as well as their skillful use of photography and video as a means to document and monitor the changes taking place within society.
Vishnu Tenkayla, India
Vishnu is pursuing his 3rd year in chemical engineering from Ramaiah Institute, Bangalore. His interests though mostly lie in the creative fields. He has been editing short films which have traveled in the college film festival circuit. The films he has worked on have won several awards including one for the best short films in the state.
Dixie Chan, Singapore
During her days as a Political Science student, Dixie developed an interest in documentaries centered on social issues and human rights. Since 2 years ago, she has been volunteering for a sex worker’s rights group in Singapore, and has produced short films centered on this issue. Her most recent work included an art installation at The Substation, Singapore’s first independent contemporary arts centre. She hopes to deepen her knowledge of film making and produce films that can inspire people to be more active in social issues.
Ekta Kudale, India
Ekta is currently doing her P.G. Diploma in Gender, Culture and Development Studies from the University of Pune. During her internship, she worked with the Video Volunteers’ communications and focused on the writing of daily IndiaUnheard articles that accompany the video.
Niloo Roshani, Iran
“I believe media is the most powerful platform for social changes therefore I joined VV for my internship and working with them as a researcher. Video Volunteers are doing amazing and creative work on community empowerment which is really appreciable, and I am honoured to work with VV.” Niloo previously studied sociology from University of Pune, India and is currently doing her P.G. Diploma in Gender, Culture and Development Studies. During her studies she found her special interest more in Gender and Sexuality.
Ashish Kumar, India
“Me doing internship with videovolunteers brought me great exposure. I know community media plays an important role in society. I got a unique experience editing for VV’s first web show. I liked the way VV works and how the emphasis is always on the Correspondents. I wish them good luck for their future projects..” Ashish Kumar is pursing his MA Communication (Television and Radio ) from Hyderabad central University. He has worked for prime focus as editor and made his own documentary films on nomadic culture in rajasthan. He loves making short films and likes to work with new technology and likes to be exposed to new things.
Avdhesh Jani, India
“I wanted to within my interests and aspirations. Being a Development and communication student I wanted to reach out to the communities at the grass roots. I had an fantastic experience throughout my internship with VV. If opportunity arrives , I would like to work with VV in future.“Avdhesh Jani is doing his Masters at the Center for Development Communication, Ahemdabad. He has varied interests- political science, law, human rights, culture and cinema. He is a walking, talking comprehensive encyclopedia of Bollywood cinema from the stars to movies to music to mannerisms to the downright arcana.
Nikita Rudrappa, India
“My internship at VV was for 2 months during which I was editing videos for IndiaUneard. It was a great experience for me. It taught me a great deal about the numerous issues in India that go unnoticed.“Nikita is currently doing her postgraduate diploma in Television and Print Journalism from the World Media Academy, Delhi. In the last couple of years she has started traveling to various places and realized how much she loves it. After her graduation she aspires to be a travel writer.
Julia Lechner, Germany
“VideoVolunteers, I feel, is a leading organization in building a global network of community media as a trustworthy source of information directly from the persons concerned. Remarkable is, that the community produced contents are successfully implemented on a wide choice of media applications on a regional, national and international level. I see a high potential for further developments with the efforts of VideoVolunteers and I want to use my skills to support these efforts.“Julia Lechner has previously studied and worked in Communications and Media in London and Berlin. During her work she specialised in audiovisual contents and produced short documentaries for cultural institutions, a national television channel in Germany and DANIDA Foundation of Denmark. With the support from the German DAAD Fund she came to VideoVolunteers to pursue part of her Master degree of “Modern South- and South-east Asian studies”in India. She is very happy to work on a community media project as a volunteer for social media gaining valuable insights into the use of media as a tool of empowerment.
Parthib Dutta, India
“Particularly impressive is how the Community Correspondents fight so hard to get their voices heard through the video reports. To be in touch with them has been deeply inspiring and I hope to continue doing my own films with the same ambition and humanity as they do.“Parthib Dutta is an aspiring filmmaker from West Bengal. He graduated from L.V.Prasad TV and Film Academy in Chennai. In his films he is particularly interested to investigate the intentions of filmmakers and how these influence the final film. In his own films he explores the construction of a film as he gives the main character of his documentary space to portray himself on camera. In the edit the personal perspective then collides with the filmmakers view to deconstruct the intentions of the filmmaker himself. At VV Parthib has been editing reports from the Community Correspondents.
Janna Vogl, Germany
“My time at Video Volunteers was short but intense. I like the idea that everybody can participate in creating news and I often recognize how narrow-minded and biased the mainstream media is. Video Volunteers can help to change this.“Janna Vogl is a sociology student at University of Potsdam, Germany. She worked with women’s rights organisations in Tamil Nadu and conducts research on NGOs in Goa and Tamil Nadu. She helped Video Volunteers develop a metrics system to evaluate the performance of IndiaUnheard. Janna is interested in the role of media in society and possibilities of participation in this important opportunity of voicing concerns about developments in society.
Gregory Walsh, USA
Gregory Walsh is a professional filmmaker from Annapolis, Maryland. His career has included work for the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the United States Naval Academy, and numerous non-profit organizations in the Washington, DC metro area. In addition to his freelance and documentary work, Gregory regularly volunteers his skills as a camera operator and editor at Stone Soup Films in Washington, DC. He is a graduate of Towson University with a Bachelor’s degree in Electronic Media and Film.
Nupur Sonar, India
An aspiring journalist, Nupur is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Media Studies from Symbioisis Institute of Media & Communication, Pune. She’s loves writing discovering new places, writing, video editing and is trying her hand at photography during her stay in Goa. Whilst at Video Volunteers, she edits daily videos for the IndiaUnheard program. She is looking forward to gaining an insight on the role of community media in empowering communities.
Tracy Wares, USA
“Meeting the Community Correspondents of the IndiaUnheard program at Video Volunteers has been inspiring. I have a profound respect for what they do and the risks they take to speak out about injustices in their local communities. They are the vanguard of the future of investigative journalism and technology based social activism.“Tracy Wares is a television and feature documentary producer from Los Angeles, CA, USA. Awarded the William J Clinton Fellowship from the American India Foundation for 10 months of service in India, she comes to Video Volunteers to share her experience in broadcast television. Having previously lived in India from 1999-2000 while pursuing her BA in Anthropology at UC Berkeley, she is excited to experience India again with fresh eyes and volunteer her skills with an organization that produces media to impact social change.
Rajyashri Goody, India
“My time at Video Volunteers has been a blast. IndiaUnheard is an exciting program. It has left me amazed at how media can be such a powerful yet practical tool for the cause of empowerment. Can’t wait to immerse myself in this sphere. P.S: Living in Goa is awesome!“Rajyashri is from Pune, Maharashtra. After completing her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Fergusson College, she decided to spend a year volunteering with various NGOs doing inspiring work. She loves photography and writing, and is interested in understanding the significance of media in transforming communities and mindsets. At Video Volunteers, Rajyashri writes daily articles for IndiaUnheard videos, and she also did a photo-documentation of the 3rd IndiaUnheard Training Camp.
Shawna Russo, USA
“I have been wanting to live and work in India for a long time. As a person of Indian descent, it has been important for me to experience India on my own terms. Although this is my sixth trip to India, I have learned so much more about the country as a result of living on my own than I ever had during my previous visits. Additionally, having the opportunity to research the Naxalite insurgency while living and working here in Goa seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to accomplish several of my long-held goals.“Shawna Russo graduated in 2009 from Tufts University and earned a B.A. in International Relations with a concentration in Global Conflict, Cooperation, and Justice. Shawna’s main academic interest at Tufts was political violence, including terrorism, insurgency, and civil wars. At Video Volunteers, Shawna is conducting preliminary background research for a planned documentary on Naxalites in the Red Corridor of India. She is also working on expansion strategies into the Northeast and Red Corridor for VV’s IndiaUnheard program. After her time in India, Shawna hopes to earn her masters in Security Studies and work in counter-terrorism policy making and analysis.
Grace Anderson, UK
“I still can’t quite believe that I’m here. The more time I spend here the more excited I get about being a part of this. Everyone has been warm and incredibly helpful. Most of all, they are passionate about what they’re doing. A conversation feels like a full-blown internship in its self. I am learning that self-expression is a vital aspect of social change and the responses triggered by the daily videos appears to re-affirm this. I am inspired by the bravery of the Community Producers and Correspondents.“Grace is currently studying International Development Studies at the University of East Anglia. Throughout her undergrad, she spent 10 months in India; travelling, volunteering and attempting to learn Hindi. Last year she has participated in Creating YourWorldView, an online forum for discussions around the discourse of documentaries with the Common-Wealth Broadcasting Association and carried out training by BBC Voices in documentary making. Around studying, Grace works as a carer at a Residential home.
Tonia Crosby, USA
“Video Volunteers is an organization that represents my world view. I am thrilled to have an opportunity to explore community media and grassroots movement for change. Agency and voice are imperative and VV is making that possible. I look forward to taking what I learn here and applying it to my work in the future.“Tonia is completing her Master of Arts at the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies and writing her thesis on the power of community media to generate agency and voice for marginalized populations. She is the founder of a start-up non-profit called the Urban Expression Project, which aims to engage youth with social justice knowledge through creative expression and digital media networking. She is an aspiring filmmaker and is in the process of creating a film about grassroots peace work in the Denver Hip Hop community. She is an activist, an outdoor athlete and an avid traveller.
Jackie Sawiris, Jordan
“Birthday promise to self: arrive in favourite place in the world in time for sunset on my birthday. So I returned for the sixth time to India, headed straight to Goa, and was early enough to catch sunrise as well. I arrived with a few things I wanted to do, including volunteering at that magical somewhere– which turned out to be Video Volunteers. It’s been a great exchange so far – of skills, information, creativity, food, stories, laughs, music, movies, positive provocation, and how to survive the heat by sticking your head in the freezer for 30 seconds, man– and I can’t wait to see what else is out there in the VV world.“Jackie Sawiris is a half Jordanian, half Egyptian, Libyan-born, American-raised, Jordan-based writer, filmmaker, and actor. She discovered how truly powerful film can be when she initiated objecDEFY Harassment, an Arab world-based, self-perpetuating initiative that empowers people of all gender identities to combat harassment and regain agency over their bodies and spaces. She volunteered her copywriting/editing skills at Video Volunteers in exchange for learning how to make the perfect cup of chai – and ended up with a whole lot more.
Sarah Chauvin, France
“I have been to India in the past but it is the first time that I have really enjoyed being in this country and working with grassroots communities. The time I spent in Video Volunteers helped me research and understand deeply the issues facing people in this country.“Sarah studied political sciences in Lille. She first came to India in an exchange program during which she studied sociology in Pune University. Because she is passionate about India and social sciences, she decided to combine the two, and did her master in the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, where she studied anthropology with a focus on South Asia. She is currently doing research for the IndiaUnheard program.
Quentin Lecocq, France
“I wanted to discover India for a long time, and especially Indian culture and way of life. I am also interested in alternate world views and ways of thinking. So why don’t put my video experience at Video Volunteers services?“Quentin is currently working on his audiovisual and broadcasting Masters degree and as an intern has worked for French television and several different well-known video production companies. Quentin is passionate about filmmaking and cinema—he is himself a filmmaker/editor during his free time. He has directed short documentaries, short films, and music videos. At Video Volunteers he is working on a promotional video featuring the voices and work of our community producers and correspondents.
Jason Sayler, USA
“Video Volunteers is practicing and implementing the type of communication models I am most interested in pursuing at a long-term career level…I truly believe in empowering communities through the enablement/facilitation of being able to raise their own voice and articulate their needs, wants, desires, and views.“
Jason received a distinction for his MA degree in Media & International Development from the University of East Anglia’s School of International Development in the UK. His studies included looking at the different approaches to development communication and the wider relationships between media and development. Currently in Video Volunteers’ Goa office, Jason is busy writing training manuals for Video Volunteers’ future community correspondents.
Elsa Landard, France
“I have always been interested in media and dreamt of travelling to India. So volunteering for Video Volunteers was the perfect opportunity to discover the country in a different way, learn of an alternative media and also to use my skills for a good cause.“Elsa Landard studied at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University of Paris and at the Humboldt University of Berlin. She’s passionate about media, information and journalism. She’s especially keen on citizens and alternative media and their role in development and social changes. During her time at Video Volunteers’ Goa office, Elsa has been working on strengthening Video Volunteers’ presence on various social media platforms.
Kamini Menon, Kenya
“Video Volunteers amalgamates my professional qualifications and a deep-seated desire for social change. Their IndiaUnheard program is a revolutionary concept and I feel honoured to be a part of it.“Kamini Menon grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. A post graduate in Corporate Communications, Kamini is passionate about editing. Whilst volunteering in Goa, she edited video reports for IndiaUnheard—a program she finds truly fascinating. The videos, covering previously unheard issues, are helping her discover the real India.
Huge Ma, USA
“An internship at Video Volunteers is not something I’d call an ‘internship.’ It’s really more of a life experience—there’s nothing I can think of that’s quite like it.“Huge Ma is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Economics and minoring in International Relations. He spent the summer of 2010 at Video Volunteers, not only broadening his global perspectives, but developing a greater understanding of social entrepreneurship. At Video Volunteers, he researched mainstream Indian media trends as well as exploring new marketing strategies for Video Volunteers Community News Service ‘IndiaUnheard’.
William Watt, USA
“Life is good as an intern at Video Volunteers. I run on Baga Beach every morning, but in my spare time it’s fun to see other less crowded beaches. As for the work, I have been assigned a job that is interesting and allows me to watch and learn more about Video Volunteers. Through creative writing and promoting, I hope to bring awareness to the videos being produced by the CVU’s of Video Volunteers and the CCs of IndiaUnheard.“William Watt is a student of Visual Communications at the University of Evansville, USA. William is passionate about many aspects of life including athletics, the fine arts, food and traveling. William spent 2 months interning with Video Volunteers where his work focused on promoting the videos made by IndiaUnheard Community Correspondents and CVU producers.
Taijrani Rampersaud, Guyana
Taijrani Rampersaud is an international student from Guyana pursuing her MA in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, India. In her past occupations like teaching, television production and video editing, she has always been involved in programs and projects relating to development and social change. While interning with Video Volunteers she maintained the Video Volunteers’ website and video library.
John Karun Kumar, India
“I have always found video a powerful tool which can tell stories that can have a huge impact on the people watching. The best part of Video Volunteers is that it covers various kinds of social issues and uses video for a great cause, to empower the marginalized and the needy.“John Karun Kumar is a Communications student at the University of Hyderabad, India specializing in Radio and Video Production. He has done previous internships with the Telugu news channels TV9 and TV5. John always wanted to use visual mediums for social causes and during his internship he edited videos produced by the Community Video Units for upload onto the internet.