Making the Video: “Leaving Home”
By Brittany Clark on Thursday, November 18th, 2010
“At first, I complained. But that was back then… now I’ve changed,” raps our 3rd place YouTube Contest winner, Matthew Hardwick, in his video “Leaving Home (Vanuatu).” Originally from Florida, Matthew is currently serving an extended third year in the island nation of Vanuatu—a country whose beauty and unique culture is showcased in this video. Matthew took a moment of precious Internet time to give us some background info for our next installment of “Making the Video”—where we tell you a little bit about what went into creating some of the entries of our My Piece of the Peace Corps YouTube Video contest.
The video was filmed in the village of Umej, on the southernmost, and most remote, island of Aneityum in Vanuatu. It features Matthew performing a hip-hop song that he composed about the difficulties that Peace Corps Volunteers face when leaving home to serve abroad, and how they come to view their respective countries of service as a new home. Lino Barry, a local musician from Vanuatu, accompanies Matthew on the guitar and sings in the local language and traditional Aneityum style. The backdrops are breathtaking scenes of South Pacific waves crashing on the beach and a stunning green mountain range.
Matthew told us a bit about the local traditions and customs of the Umej village. Peace Corps Volunteers from many posts can relate to Umej having no electricity, phone communication, roads, or reliable shipping. Matthew says, “Often the basics such as flour and sugar are out of stock and locals rely on food they harvest from their gardens, the mountainous jungle or the surrounding coral reefs.” Umej is governed by a chiefly system, and fines are often paid in pigs, water taro, and woven coconut leaf mats. Villagers attend Catholic mass, due to the influence of 19th century missionaries, and they speak the local language, Aneityumese; the national pidgin language, Bislama; and French.
Matthew is due to return to the United States in July 2011, but is considering extending for a fourth year. His 2-minute video was originally part of a lengthier DVD that he created with locals to help a fundraising committee on his island. They have been selling copies for $15 to raise money for a solar light system in a local church. Michael plans to put his prize money from the YouTube Video Contest towards his Peace Corps Partnership Project, to further benefit the village that made his video possible.