Making the Video: A Closer Look at our “My Piece of the Peace Corps” YouTube Contest Winner
By Brittany Clark on Friday, November 5th, 2010
The National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) asked for video submissions of no more than two minutes for its “My Piece of the Peace Corps” YouTube video contest. Many wonderful entries followed, and three deserving winners were chosen. However, NPCA decided that two minutes just wasn’t enough! We asked the contest’s first place winner, Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) Carrie Pavlik, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to discuss the back-story and “making of” her very original “My Piece of the Peace Corps (Zambia)” submission.
The storyline is great on its own—how a Peace Corps love story transformed one couple into urban farmers and changed their lives for the better. Combine that with creative editing and you have a winning video. Carrie’s boyfriend, Doug, plays a large part in this story and actually did the video’s narration. “We became friends right around the time I had applied for Peace Corps and started dating several months later,” Carrie says, “We knew we would only have a year together before I had to leave, but we decided to go for it anyway. The relationship ended up working out and soon the Peace Corps became this thing that loomed over us.” Despite doubts about going ahead with her Peace Corps service, Carrie left for Zambia as planned to work as a Rural Education Development Volunteer, unsure of what would become of her new relationship.
“I lived in a very remote village without electricity, let alone cell phone coverage, internet, or a post office,” says Carrie, “We kept in touch through letters which I could mail and pick up when I went to town once a month. We kept in contact this way for six months while he saved up money to buy a plane ticket to Zambia.” Doug arrived and spent several months with Carrie, discovering traditional Zambian ways of life. They both learned about growing their own food and building things themselves—“keeping it simple,” as Carrie says. When Doug’s visiting visa expired, he returned to the United States, and they continued writing letters to each other for another year.
“When we had first met, we both had vague ideas of wanting to make the world a better place,” Carrie says, “It wasn’t until our time in Zambia that we fully realized that our best contribution would be through sustainable agriculture, permaculture, and homesteading. In other words, bringing a bit of rural Zambia to the United States.” Carrie’s inspiration for her YouTube contest video came from this, and depicts the couple in their new life back home. “We’ve now been together for five years and own a small urban farm in Pittsburgh. We have chickens, ducks, bees, vegetables, and fruit trees,” says Carrie. In the video, Doug comments, “I don’t want to miss out on the most basic and satisfying act of producing my own food.” The couple is saving money to buy rural acreage for a larger farm.
When Carrie decided for sure that she wanted to enter the YouTube contest, she took eight hours of footage she had taken in Zambia and new footage she had shot of her urban farm and got to work. “Just about every day for two weeks, I biked an hour each way with my hard-drive to a computer that had Final Cut Pro and put together my video.” The result is a fascinating, sliding show of her service in Zambia, how she has brought her experience home, and changed not only her life—but her boyfriend’s as well.
Update: Read a story in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about the Carrie’s contest win: