By Arfah Shahid Siddiqi
A 10-day documentary workshop, conducted by Mass Communication professor Susan Smith, was launched on Monday, November 18, 2013 at the American University of Sharjah (AUS). The event is part of Project Focus, which aims to explore the third-culture-kid (TCK) identity of individuals aged 10-17 and observe how they adapt to their migrant status.
Research shows that approximately 20 percent of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) population is 14 and under. Smith says that an increasing number of these youth are no longer able to identify with their native culture, and experience some form of cultural marginality when they come to the UAE or repatriate.
“The number of adolescent youths immigrating to the UAE is growing. There has been plenty of research conducted about Emirati youth, but little research has examined adolescent expatriates and the methods they use to adapt to society in the UAE,” says Smith.
Accordingly, this workshop aims to teach students how to film and edit documentaries, with the goal of helping them discover their identities.
Through this initiative, Smith says she hopes to “enable AUS adolescents to begin to explore and express their expatriate and/or TCK commonalities and share with each other their successes and/or failures as to how to adapt to their new environment.”
Smith adds that the workshops will not only help the youth to develop their production and editing skills, but it will also inspire them to “think clearly about what it means to make UAE their home.”
AUS students experienced with documentary-making will help mentor participants at the sessions, which are held daily from 5-7:30 p.m. until November 28 at the university's Chemistry Building.
Teen-aged AUS students as well as children of staff and faculty pertaining to this age group can participate.
Arfah Shahid Siddiqi is a senior International Studies and Journalism student at American University of Sharjah.
Photographs courtesy of Zena Afara, junior Public Relations student.