Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Richard Breyer, Co-Director, Professor, Documentary Film and History
Lawrence Popielinski, Associate Professor, Television, Radio and Film
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Film and Media Studies | Television
“Saturdays with Egal” is a documentary for the Capstone thesis “Being Somali Bantu in the City: A look at the life of a Somali Bantu student in the Syracuse City School District. The film focuses on Egal Adan, a Somali Bantu, fourteen-year-old refugee. It is a story about my relationship with Egal as a tutor and mentor. “Saturdays with Egal” also delves into the adversity he has had to overcome and his accomplishments in school, sports, extracurricular activities, and at home despite his hardships.
I chose to create a documentary because of the organic relationship it creates between viewers and the subject. I filmed on my own such that each scene was created with my subjects, a camera, and me. This allowed the characters to feel more comfortable opening up, especially in interviews, and allows the audience to feel as if they are apart of the family and friends with the characters, rather than just observing a staged production. I used a combination of cinema vérité and journalistic styling. The film is also driven by my voiceover narration, which provides background and additional insight into Egal’s life and our relationship.
The film presents the themes of perseverance and determination. My goal is to inspire people and teach them about the Somali Bantu refugee population as well as necessities for students to succeed in urban school districts. One of my passions is urban education reform, and this is my first step in bringing attention to the help we need for our schools. The film focuses on a student that self-sufficiently has taught himself and succeeded in the Syracuse City School District, but he lives in poverty. Other students do not have the same drive that Egal has and thus struggle because they do not receive proper help. By highlighting a student that has surpassed expectations in Syracuse schools, we see what works and is needed in order to help other students reach the same level. The film shows that with proper support and funding for classes and extracurricular activities, students are more apt to devote themselves to their schoolwork and achieve high grades. “Saturdays with Egal” taught me, and will teach the viewers, about our relationship as teacher and student, the Somali Bantu community, and urban education through the life of a refugee student.
White, Bailey Nay, "Being Somali Bantu in the City: A Look at the Life of a Somali Bantu Student in the Syracuse City School District" (2013). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 12.
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