A few weeks ago I learned that my high school, DC Met, has become an outpost of Roadtrip Nation. At the time I hadn’t heard of Roadtrip Nation, and I’m willing to bet most of DC Met’s students hadn’t either. It’s a nationwide project focused on helping people figure out what they want to do with their lives by exploring the career paths of various people and encouraging students and others to consider their own. Roadtrip Nation’s road-trippers were slated to visit DC Met in their green RV, and in advance of their arrival we needed to ask students: “What do you want to do with your life?”
Good question. Even at my age I’m not always sure of the answer. Now we were going to ask DC Met’s students — all 200-odd of them, according to the principal. And she wanted their responses recorded on video. As the school’s resident media and tech guy, the responsibility fell on me to line it up.
Working with Kay, our supervisor at PMC, I managed to get help from Garland McLaurin, a documentary filmmaker who has worked with PMC and the National Black Programming Consortium in the past. As Kay made the phone calls to arrange the date, she groused, “Once you deliver the magic to people, they’re going to expect it again and again.”
“What’s wrong with that?” I asked. “Don’t you want to be known as the Public Magic Corps?”
Garland came to DC Met with his camera and other equipment and, after some setup, we were good to go. Secretly, we had an ulterior motive. NBPC has been planning a reality show based at DC Met that would put a face on the issue of education reform by following students and educators at the school, including our charismatic and outspoken principal, Tanishia Williams-Minor. It sounded like a great idea to me, and I’ve been pulled into handling logistics on the ground as we interview teachers and seek approval from D.C. Public Schools to make this show. But we had yet to start on an important piece of the project — finding the students who would bring the show to life. With these Roadtrip Nation interviews, we had a great chance to start getting to know them.
What do you want to do with your life? I had no idea what kind of answers we were going to get. And given how unresponsive students can be sometimes, I wondered whether they’d open up when they sat down in front of our camera.
Turns out I had nothing to worry about. More about that soon.