The Eastern Europe FLEX-Ability Workshop 2018 kicked off in Moldova, bringing in FLEX Alumni from all over Eastern Europe. The workshop aimed to introduce alumni to advanced concepts of storytelling that incorporate modern audio and video technologies and give them a hands-on experience of augmented and virtual reality technologies that are shaping the future. During the workshop, alumni were given the chance to immerse themselves in and interact with the rich culture of Moldova through an organized photo walk led by local guides. The four-day workshop concluded with a media gala that gave alumni the opportunity to showcase what they had learned and created during the tenure of their stay. Scroll down to read in detail about everything that happened at The Eastern Europe FLEX-Ability Workshop 2018.

Filming Big Story

The Filming Big Story project was one of the highlights of the workshop. Not only did it introduce the alumni to the concept of conveying a message via stories to an audience, but also put them into all of the different filmmaking roles that go into creating the right visual story. This was also an exciting opportunity for these alumni to interact and socialize while putting all of their creative efforts together into filming a story of their own.  Alumni were divided into groups after they had been introduced to the tools and techniques that were necessary for creating an effective story while mentors continued to provide the groups with constructive feedback. All of the groups had come up with unique ideas for their stories and made use of all that they had learned. “Filming big story gave me an opportunity to see how creative my colleagues could be and at the same time how supportive they could be of other people’s ideas and suggestions. I loved working with them. Each big group activity involved alumni from all 5 countries and that way it was easy to communicate and make new friends with them. I think it also helped to better understand neighbor countries and create useful relationships.”

Augmented and Virtual Reality

Both virtual and augmented reality technologies recently started gaining popularity in the past few years, especially after Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus. The alumni at EEFAW18 got to experience this technology firsthand in order to understand how they can be used to have a positive impact on communities. The session was delivered by David Malana and Benjamin Thurn, both of whom were able to keep the alumni engaged with a number of activities. One of the alumni went on to say, “The introduction to VR and AR was super useful and innovative. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to learn about these things.”

The U.S. Embassy Reception

The U.S. Embassy in Chisinau put together a reception for the workshop participants in honor of the 25th anniversary of the FLEX program. The alumni were able to socialize with the American Councils and U.S. Embassy staff at the residence of Mr. Joseph Tordella, Public Affairs Officer U.S. Embassy Chisinau. The alumni enjoyed the event and one of them said, “At the U.S. embassy reception I once again was reminded of the amazing opportunities that the U.S. embassies around the world and American Councils are providing for young people and how powerful international programs are. We can and we continue to make a difference in our communities and in the world.” The reception was held on the second day of the workshop, shortly before the alumni participated in the photo walk.

Photo Walk

A photo walk was also a part of the agenda at #EEFAW18. It provided the alumni with a chance to not only explore the beautiful city of Moldova and socialize but also learn the tips and tricks associated with capturing the right storytelling portraits. This was also an opportunity for the alumni to socialize with each other and learn about the rich history and culture of Moldova’s capital. A big focus during the photo walk was the local guides who ended up interacting with the alumni by telling them interesting stories of the city. “During the photo walk, I could learn a lot of interesting things about a country that is close to mine, yet so different in its own way”, said one of the alumni. This was the end to day two of the workshop.

Red Carpet and Media Gala

No film-related event would be complete without a red carpet and media gala event. The gala gave the participants the chance to demonstrate the skills they learned by showing the films they created. The alumni also loved the heartfelt video that David Malana had created about the workshop. “Red carpet and media gala was just amazing, because everyone shared with their stories and everyone did their best. I’m so encouraged to do something similar soon and share with all the guys who I’ve met in Moldova. I want to say thank you to David, because I burst into tears when I watched his video. I’ll watch it again and again when I have to find the Inspiration of creating videos and when I miss the FLEXers!”, said one of the participants. Another participant went on to say, “Sharing our big project made me cry as well as David’s video about the workshop. Media Gala was a great idea to spend some more time together before departure.” The final video was definitely one of the highlights of the event as it captured the energy, productivity and dedication of FLEX alumni participants.