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The Atrévete team includes people from different backgrounds, Latin America and the United States. Photo: Peter Fitzpatrick / AL DÍA News.
The Atrévete team includes people from different backgrounds, Latin America and the United States. Photo: Peter Fitzpatrick / AL DÍA News.

The one-year anniversary of Philadelphia’s bilingual program, Atrévete

An audiovisual project of the PhillyCam NGO became an exercise in social fabric that gives voice to the Spanish-speaking communities of Philadelphia.

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The media reports on the events that happen in the world. And in that frantic exercise of publishing how much it happens, they apply filters that often distort the reality of what happened and its protagonists.

This is clear for a group of people who just a little over a year ago gathered at PhillyCam headquarters, an audiovisual production center that promotes the creation of community media in Philadelphia, to make a dream come true: creating a television program and tell their lives without more filters than their own words.

That's how Atrévete, a community and bilingual program that began on May 5 last year, has given authentic and genuine faces and accents to an increasingly diverse and complex Hispanic community.

"We realized that, on the one hand, we did not have enough multilingual content in PhillyCam and, on the other, that the community needed to tell their own stories through their own means," says Laura Deutch, Director of Education and Production in PhillyCam and coordinator of the project. "That's how we started getting closer to the Spanish-speaking community through production courses."

At first there were 18 members of the project, who after learning to operate a video camera, went out to portray their community. Since then, Atrévete has been proposed to be a bridge in many directions, from the generational to the linguistic.

"There is a gap between generations of Latino immigrants, the first generation of parents who came a long time ago and do not speak much English, and the second and third generation who speak English but not much Spanish," says Steffany El-Barouki, producer of the program, in explaining its bilingual nature.

Although that may sound simple, for Ariel Goodman, a journalist and project collaborator, Atrévete has a very important meaning in times of alternative truths. "The representations (in the media) of people, particularly Latinos, are that they are bad. They are using an image of the Latino as a criminal, and they do it all over the country to manipulate. That’s a heavy burden especially at this time, "he says.

In that sense, Atrévete is not only an audiovisual project of resistance, it is also a mean of inclusion, because what you see on the screen is what you see in the neighborhoods: people from different backgrounds, different accents and different stories: Latinos and Americans; women and men; white, brown and black; girls and boys.

What began as a workshop has become a constant exercise of telling the facts from a non-mediated perspective. For this reason, the cameras of Atrévete have been in events like the Fair of the Neighborhood, the Democratic National Convention, the Day without Immigrants, among others.

"What I like about Atrévete is that it is a community project, we are all producers, we are from different countries and our production is totally democratic", affirms Leticia Roa Nixon, a member of the team who highlights the social fabric that has recovered its project in only one year in the air.

In the same vein Odin Palacio, his presenter, says: "The most important thing is the chemistry between us. We did not know each other before the project, but when we joined, things flowed so naturally that we are now a family".

Atrévete has also been an exercise of perseverance that during its first year has shown that it can be a genuine amplifier of the voices and the Latin ideas of Philadelphia. As Ariel Goodman says, the power of communicative and community projects like Atrévete lies in its ability to "create our own world" through communication as it happens in the neighborhood, between neighbors.

Not only is it worth it to tune in to this program every Thursday at 8:00 p.m., on the public access channel Comcast 66/966 and Verizon 29/30. You can also join the project. The requirement is only one: wanting to participate.

Individuals interested in getting involved will be able to attend an informative talk at PhillyCam, 699 Ranstead St, (7th Street, between Market and Chesnut) on May 6th at 12:00 p.m.

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