By Theresa Evans
The student-made documentary “Where I’m From” premiered on Nov. 28 in the NJM Room as part of Tapestry’s “A Blending of Cultures” event.
The documentary was directed by junior filmmaking, TV and radio major Patrice Hrabowskie, who was asked to make the film for Tapestry, of which she is a member of, and highlight stories of cultures that are often untold.
Hrabowski found inspiration for the film from a friend of hers who told her about the impact mental health has on her Dominican and Mexican culture.
“If we give everyone the same narrative, people will think they are not special and that no one is special,” said Hrabowski. “The fact is, we all have so many differences between each other. We’re all special.”
The documentary shows nine Rider students who discuss their cultures and ethnicities in order to distinguish the similarities and differences among various cultures while also highlighting the importance of uncovering individuality within one’s culture.
Following the showing of the documentary, the Rider community asked Hrabowski questions about her experience during a Q&A segment.
“I was very honored that people were interested in learning about different cultures,” said Hrabowski. “It made me feel like my generation cares about learning, not generalizing.”
The Tapestry event brought people of all backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities together to discuss diversity.
“I think it’s important to acknowledge our similarities and differences because it helps us learn about ourselves as people, and help respect those around us,” said junior behavioral neuroscience major Caleb Holt, who was a part of the documentary.
“It was a fun experience,” he said. “I learned a lot about a lot of different people. Through that, I learned about myself as well.
Hrabowski’s favorite part of making the documentary was conducting interviews with students.
“There was laughter, heaviness and enlightening,” she said. “Above all, whatever headspace a person came in doing the interviews, the atmosphere completely changed as soon as he or she began talking about his or her culture. The smiles I got made me feel like I was giving them something they’d never know they even wanted. That was epic.”
Senior digital media major Jordan Cohen worked with Hrabowski on a previous project and was excited to work on another project with her.
“It’s always fun to work with her” said Cohen. “I think she’s really great at what she does and she really invokes a lot of good answers out of the people that she works with. She has such a good energy that she brings to it.”
Cohen identifies as Israeli-Moroccan and appreciates the combination of his culture, finding it humbling.
“One of the most heavy-weighted things nowadays is your origin and what that means to you whether it be African-American, Spanish, Mexican or whatever,” he said. “It’s so important to hold that true because there is so much diversity nowadays and there’s so much rejection of diversity as well.”
He also believes that Rider is a diverse campus due to its variety of ethnic greek organizations.
“There’s just a lot of opportunities to expand yourself and represent yourself at the same time,” said Cohen. “I feel like this is a very special university in the way that it’s small, but even in it’s smallness we are able to include everybody.”
Cohen said that Rider students have an advantage by going to a small university as it allows students to learn about and understand other cultures.
“We get to teach others the beauty of acceptance and that’s why I really appreciate this school,” Cohen said.
Hrabowski was nervous about making the documentary and explained the experience as a “rollercoaster.”
“It was very nerve-wracking because I wanted to get everyone’s stories right, as well as take the audience on a journey,” she said. “When producing a film, you’re never really satisfied because there are things that I know I like that may not fit, but I’ve learned that directing a film is not for the director, it’s for the audience. The audience’s response makes me feel satisfied, because they enjoyed learning different facts because of my work.”