Communication and Media Studies Department

Kathryn Lasky Award for Public Service Winners Chosen

Media Studies majors Ayrie Calhoun-Lang, Derek Goodrich, Heather Guaciaro, and Michael Maurice have been selected as the 2014 recipients of the Kathryn Lasky Award for Public Service. 

The award—given in memory of USM Professor Kathryn Lasky, a Co-Founder of USM’s Media Studies Program – recognizes “the Media Studies student(s) whose performance in the major exemplifies the highest achievement within the goals of the program and whose work in the practicum demonstrates the best uses of media in service to the community.” 

The team of four seniors is being honored for their collaboration with the Center for Grieving Children to produce a documentary video entitled Swimming in a Culture without Water.  It will be used by the Center’s Multicultural Peer Support program as a teaching tool to help increase, among program volunteers and other audiences, the understanding of collective loss and grief within populations of families of new Americans. The  program serves children and teens who have resettled in Portland, Maine, and are grieving both personal and collective loss. 

 To complete the film project, Calhoun-Lang, Goodrich, Guaciaro, and Maurice worked closely with Center staff and its volunteer Intercultural Advisory Council, a group of local leaders from diverse communities who have direct knowledge of the Multicultural Peer Support Program and the needs of the children and families it serves.

 This is the third time USM Media Studies Students have collaborated with the Center to create a training film. In 2010, students produced Walk a Mile in My Shoes, a documentary of the Multicultural Peer Support Program. In 2012, students produced From the Heart, a film exploring collective loss, the grief-support needs of refugee children, and the many challenges children face during resettlement. According to Multicultural Coordinator Marie Sheffield, From the Heart has proven integral in helping volunteers understand the children’s experience and improving their ability to serve refugee/immigrant communities. The film has been presented locally, nationally, and internationally to such groups as the National Alliance for Grieving Children, American Art Therapy Association, and the North American Refugee Health Conference.

 This latest video, Swimming in a Culture without Water, explores similar themes from the parents’ perspective. The Center will use the film to increase viewers’ knowledge of the refugee family experience and secondary stressors, and to inform the Center’s directions for future programming.

 Sheffield praises these video projects as examples of collaborative education at its best: “Once again, USM students have provided a great service to the community by creating a film that will increase cultural understanding and promote intercultural dialogue about grief and loss. Our collaboration with students, through service learning, has supported the Center’s efforts to educate our volunteers and enhance our training capacity. At the same time, we have been able to engage USM students in learning more about their community, exploring diversity, and connecting their classroom learning to real-world situations.”

Faculty and staff of the Department of Communication & Media Studies congratulate these students and their service learning classmates on the collective success of their efforts to document and advance the mission of this year’s community practicum partners.