Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

‘The Human Experience’ a testament to endurance, faith

What is “the human experience”? This is the question driving a small group of  young men as they set out to step into the shoes of the forgotten members of various societies, in the process making a documentary of the same name.

The men spend a week living homeless on the streets of New York City, join a group of altruistic surfers as they journey to Peru to stay with disabled orphans, gain insight into experiences of individuals living with AIDS in Ghana, and spend time in a leper colony.   As they share stories and experiences with these forgotten people, they begin to learn more about themselves and humanity in general.

Many of the men documenting these stories experienced hardships of their own growing up. Through their interactions with others, they are able to reach greater understandings about their own situations and, in one case, begin to fix broken relationships with their newfound insight and perspective.

This film is beautiful because it is able to capture unheard stories and to testify the human desire to endure hardship and maintain a positive attitude, particularly when it seems like all faith should be lost. The scenes that show the conversations with members of overlooked communities are powerful and thought-provoking, while those that capture play dates with grinning Peruvian children are simply heartwarming.

Despite these strengths, it is impossible to ignore the superficiality looming over the documentary. While its message is timeless and significant, there are many parts that feel more staged than organic. The men had the courage to embrace others’ lives, and ostensibly all that this entailed, but they were still able to leave at the end of the day or week. I wanted to love every second of the film, but there were parts that made the men seem motivated by personal reasons.

Having said that, this film is an incredible testament to the fact that we, as a human race, are far more similar than different. Furthermore, that we, humanity, should remember such a fact in our day-to-day lives.

“The Human Experience” is a perfect fit for the Whitman community, a place known for its philanthropic students. It is a reminder that volunteering fosters mutually-beneficial relationships. I would recommend this film, as it is a great way to maintain some much needed perspective, especially during a time when the stress leading up to finals can cause people to forget what is truly important.

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