Student Documentary Explores "Fair Trade" in Nicaragua
Emily Ward ’09 drinks a cup of coffee every morning. Being a socially conscious college student, Ward wondered where her coffee came from—besides the local grocery or the corner coffeehouse.
“I wanted to know whose hands were laboring for my morning cup of coffee,” explains Ward in her documentary Harvest: the journey to a small coffee farm, which she filmed during Trinity’s Semester in Nicaragua.
The College’s new semester abroad program gave this math major, interested in video production, the opportunity to be immersed in a new culture, implement her film making skills, and investigate first-hand the meaning of “fair trade” in the coffee industry.
Despite the millions of dollars generated by this enormous industry, coffee farmers and workers in countries such as Nicaragua are very poor. Many small coffee farmers, like the family Ward lived with and filmed for three weeks, often receive prices for their coffee that are less than the cost of production. Fair Trade is a social movement that seeks to ensure that farmers and artisans receive fair prices for their goods.
Ward observed the daily life of coffee farmer Don Chico and his family of eight children. She was immersed in everyday living, which included a staple diet of beans and rice, farm and household chores, and bucket showers. More important, Ward, through her interpreter, heard about the hardships and concerns of a struggling businessman and father in the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
“For me, this experience put a face on poverty,” said Ward. “The purpose of the documentary is to inform people about Fair Trade and encourage consumers to think about the products they buy. I also wanted to show the lives of these farmers and their families.”
Ward spent the remainder of the semester with a host family and studied courses in video production, Spanish, and the history and culture of Nicaragua.
The core of the Semester in Nicaragua program is an internship at the Nehemiah Center—a trans-denominational ministry and community development effort of Nicaraguan leaders and North American missionaries. For more information, visit our site at http://tcc.trnty.edu/nicaragua/.
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