Associate Professor Eric Ishiwata of Ethnic Studies watches “Who I Am” at a special screening in April.
On Oct. 18, members of the Fort Collins community will have another opportunity to see the virtual reality documentary produced by Colorado State University alumni about the work of Ethnic Studies Associate Professor Eric Ishiwata and his students in the eastern Colorado town of Fort Morgan.
Who I Am: A Journey of Unity Through the Stories of Refugee, Immigrant and First-Generation Students made its debut in April at the ACT Human Rights Film Festival. The CSU Alumni Association is hosting a special screening of the 360-degree film from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Iris & Michael Smith Alumni Center, in the new on-campus stadium.The event is free, but online registration is required.
About the film
The 12-minute documentary chronicles efforts by Ishiwata, the Key Service Community and ethnic studies students to build relationships among the town’s three main demographic groups: Latinos, Anglos and East Africans, including many who come from immigrant and refugee backgrounds. To assist with education and community-building in one of the most diverse towns in Colorado, since 2014 Ishiwata and his students have helped support music festivals and community forums; a workshop on translation/interpretation, bullying and interpersonal relations; professional development trainings on diversity for Morgan County public school teachers; and campus visits to CSU for Fort Morgan High School students.
The documentary features many Fort Morgan students reading statements written during the development of “FM Speaks,” a project that CSU alumnus and Fort Morgan High School teacher Elliott Johnston spearheaded with Ishiwata. It was a way for the young people to share personal stories that provide insight into the community. In addition to recording firsthand accounts of Fort Morgan students, the documentary features Ishiwata’s students describing what the community engagement experience and “near-peer” mentoring has meant to them.
Many of the Fort Morgan students got to see themselves on the big screen in April at a private screening held at the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery.
The executive producer of the film was Amy Hoeven, who graduated from CSU with a degree in interdisciplinary liberal arts in 1995. It was directed by Kyle Rasmussen, who earned his bachelor’s degree from CSU in 2013. The associate producer on the film was Brandon Wooldridge, who earned his bachelor’s in interdisciplinary liberal arts at CSU in 2015. Rasmussen and Wooldridge are co-owners of BlueShoe Media, a Fort Collins-based digital media production company.
Ishiwata, Hoeven and Rasmussen will speak about their involvement in the documentary and its creation at the Oct. 18 event.
In addition to the two national film festivals where the documentary has been shown, the filmmakers have been invited to submit it to the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Prague.
The Department of Ethnic Studies is in CSU’s College of Liberal Arts.