STEP Reflection

1. Please provide a brief description of your STEP Signature Project.

I chose to create a film project (with two other girls) to examine how the glass/bamboo ceiling has impacted our interviewees’ lives and their perspectives. I traveled with Sharon Yeh and Wendy Zhu to Manhattan for 10 days over Spring Break. We interviewed 4 women: 2 undergraduate students and 2 working professionals. In totality, we gathered 3 video shorts and 2-3 written responses. For each person, we tailored a list of similar questions accordingly to each person background, career choices/aspirations, interests, etc.

2. What about your understanding of yourself, your assumptions, or your view of the world changed/transformed while completing your STEP Signature Project?

I was very interested in this project because I wanted to examine if there was a opportunistic ceiling that was impeding the Asian-American community in career advancement. In other words, I wondered, is the glass/bamboo ceiling real? Simultaneously, I wanted to delve in different medium that I was used to: filmography. Most of my camera experience has strictly been in photography, which is very different (though skills are transferable). Alas, I saw an opportunity to create a project that was not only uncharted territory for me, but meaningful to Asian-American and other minority communities.

After completing the project, I learned that yes, there may be an underlying bias and other underlying factors in job recruitment and promotions. I learned that cultural factors do influence the trajectory of where an Asian-American chooses to route for their career. Initially, I thought it would be easier to find a clear message, but the findings of this project started getting muddier as we progressed through the project. I started to realize  implementing a project that involved people’s experiences would be scattered and unorganized. In a sense, it was like writing a storybook with people’s experiences – there was a lot of footage to go through and it wasn’t until we edited and refined, that we could chisel out clearer findings. Also, learning how to edit in Adobe Premiere Pro took some time getting used to. It was amazing to meet new individuals and learn about their experiences, but It’s also really important to respect our interviewees’ time. What they are comfortable with also needs to be respected.

3.What events, interactions, relationships, or activities during your STEP Signature Project led to the change/transformation that you discussed in #2, and how did those affect you?

It’s also really important to respect our interviewees’ time.

I tried cold-emailing individuals to interview, most of which were unsuccessful. People are not as receptive to people that don’t know. Many of interviewees happened to be contacts within our network, whether they were students we knew or Ohio State alumni. It seemed easier to find working professionals were connected to our school, The Ohio State University. When we met with these individuals, we met with them for approximately an hour or so. I was very appreciative because they willing to commit time from their day to contribute to our project. I think if anything, this has made me more conscious and empathetic towards other individuals.

At the same time, since our interviewees’ were in our network (who have similar background to us), most if not all interviewees were East-Asian. Initially, we wanted a wide breadth of Asian ethnicities represented (like South Asians, for example).

Learning how to edit in Adobe Premiere Pro took some time getting used to.

I’ve never used Adobe Premiere Pro before, and it’s less user-friendly that iMovie. After deliberation, we decided to keep each individual’s video as a stand-alone, rather than combining their responses into a collaged film. Since our questions were tailored, it was difficult find intersecting points to combine that would also flow cohesively and artistically.

Editing did take a bulk of our time. We spent a lot of hours scouring over our footage and cutting it down accordingly to our project topic. After we cut to the content we needed, we then revised our footage to make it more aesthetically pleasing.

What they are comfortable with also needs to be respected.  

We had intended this to be a film documentary, however, not all interviewees were comfortable appearing on camera, and so that limited our film collection. Instead, we either gathered written response from them or from ourselves.

4. Why is this change/transformation significant or valuable for your life?

I’m glad I did this project. Though, it did not turn out as expectedly and did run into some challenges, it was a wonderful experience meeting and learning about the individuals we talked to. It allowed me and the other two girls to meet these new people and learn about how glass and bamboo ceiling have/will impact them. I learned how powerful filmography is as a product, but how mildly painful it is to create (specifically referring to editing). While I’ve had a distant appreciation for filmography since high school, I never sat down to lend myself the opportunity to learn it; this project allowed that. I hope to delve more deeply into similar projects in the future. If anything, it’s certainly peaked my interest to continue pursuing this genre of art and communication. I learned that I do love learning about other people’s stories and experiences, but rather than watching other filmmakers/storytellers dive for these, I want to do it myself.

In the future, I plan on working in software companies (Adobe, Instagram, Google, Stripe, etc.) in a technical role. However, on the side, I see myself pursuing film or photo projects like this in my free time and essentially, storytelling.

Behind the scenes:

Our project: https://medium.com/@shainalieh/breaking-ceilings-a-closer-look-at-the-asian-american-woman-experience-78ed1fc18933