Intersections in life…

Saw this solar street light at the ‘Three-ways’ market in the village. In 2022, when I was at home, I saw that some of the boys where trying to put it up. But now when I come back, I see that it is already up and shines during the evenings.

Next to the light pole is the ‘three ways’ market. There is a small market stall there that is the center point for three pathways that intersect – going west to Derimbat village, going east to Lowa village and then going inland all the way to Pundru and Kari villages.

Sometimes, when you reach intersections in your life, you need to remember to let God be the light of your journey.

Writing short fiction

I have been telling students for the last couple of weeks to write a 1000 word short fiction in our PNG Literature class. We studied two short stories by Clive Hawigen titled ‘Keeping the cold chain’ and ‘Revenge is such a bitch’ and used it as inspiration to keep short stories to a particular activity rather than a series of activities due to the limited word count.
So this week I decided to bite the bullet and write the my own short story to use as an example for the students. The theme of the short story is ‘interconnectedness’ which basically means people are connected in some way through their action or non-action. The message of the short fiction is that ‘people grieve differently’.

Here is my short fiction:

As Janet entered the student mess, her mind was still on that assignment she had submitted. It was 6.30am but the mess was abuzz with student voices and sounds of laughter filled the corners of the large room with its tiled floor and wooden tables. As she scanned her student ID card at the entrance, she wondered how she was so late in handing the major paper to her lecturer. She had done it again. She promised herself that she would never hand in her assignment late again. But that was last year. She just couldn’t repeat the unit one more year. She was 27. She was too old to be in Year 3 again. Her cohort had all completed four years in the Bachelor of Communication Arts program. That was four years ago. This was her second time she was repeating this ‘Mass Media Theory’ unit. Maybe learning at university was not her cup of tea.

The worker behind the mess counter didn’t even look as he gave her four slices of bread. Everyone knew him as ‘Tino’ but none of the students knew his real name. He was too busy sorting out the thin slices of bread for the next student behind Janet in the student line. The white bread didn’t look appetizing. Her stomach growled as if to confirm its dislike for the dry bread. But she knew she had to eat this and drown it down with a cup of black tea. This mess was her only place to eat. Her dad had paid for her school fees while working the coffee gardens back in the cool Erap mountains in Nawaeb District. He was as strong as a bull on the Markham plains, worked hard during the coffee season and his financial support for his daughter was unwavering. Janet knew this and never asked more of her father than what was required. Once she arrived at Divine Word University campus in Madang from Morobe, she ate all her meals at the mess and saved the money her father had given her, for toiletries.

Janet placed her porcelain cup of tea on the table and then pulled the green plastic but sturdy chair away the blue table. She slumped down. She had sat close to the wired window of the mess and away from the rest of the students. She didn’t want the bright and chirpy students to invade her moment. As Janet took the first bite of the bread and swallowed, she wondered why Mrs. Kisanumbuki had allowed her to submit the assignment late. She was a good teacher – cheerful and bright in her class presentations but she was as tough as nails and took great importance in making sure every student submitted on time. She had been teaching at the university for 18 years and never accepted late work. But she had just accepted Janet’s late work. Did she care about Janet? Did she feel sorry for Janet?

The next mouthful of bread was too dry to swallow. Janet dipped the white bread slice into her tea cup. If Mrs. Kisanumbuki accepted her assignment, then maybe she had felt sorry for Janet. When Janet handed in the handwritten paper assignment a day later after the due date, Mrs. Kisanumbuki didn’t say a word. She just accepted the assignment as if Janet had not submitted late. Janet remembered that earlier on in the semester, Tony and Palek had handed in their assignment late by just 30 minutes but Mrs. Kisanumbuki came into class the next day and made a big fuss about students submitting late. But this had not happened when Janet handed in the assignment. The bread was already soggy and Janet used her spoon to scoop the bread and swallowed it on one gulp. She didn’t like it one bit.

Janet lifted her head and saw that she was alone on the table that could seat 10 students. She was lonely as a single cloud in the sky. She didn’t care about being alone. Even though she was in a class of 30 other students, she never really connected with anyone. Did the other students in class look down on her as a repeating student? Was that why Mrs. Kisanumbuki did not scold her for being late? Did Mrs. Kisanumbuki look down on her as well? She took another sip of tea. Looking around the mess, the students began to line up to get breakfast. The line didn’t move quickly. Tino was arguing with a student at the counter. Janet didn’t bother to hear what the argument was about. She sipped her tea again. She was like this. She didn’t bother with those who had no impact or influence on her life. She just got on with what she was tasked to do. This was the quality that Hornibrooks PNG Limited saw in her when they first recruited her two years ago when she dropped out at Uni. They loved her no nonsense leadership over the two years she worked at the Lae office. She did find a purpose in her work. They told her that if she completed her Bachelors Degree they would place her as the Area Manager for Momase Region. This was before COVID came and they had to let her go. She had found the motivation to come back to complete her studies.

Janet decided it was time to leave the table.
“May I sit here with you?” Janet’s train of thoughts were abruptly broken by a voice of someone familiar. It was Sevese! Of all people, it had to be Sevese. Janet really liked this guy but never had the courage to speak to him. Even in the classroom, she always avoided looking at his direction because if their eyes ever met, her heart would jump out of her chest! Janet couldn’t even muster a sentence and meekly said: “Yes em orait.”
Sevese sat across from her. How could this lanky guy from Kerema just sit at her table? Janet’s heart raced a thousand beats in a minute!
He dipped the slice of bread into his cup of tea. Before Janet could say anything, Sevese looked up from his tea cup, looked at her and in a quiet but stern voice he said: “Did you know that Mrs. Kisanumbuki’s daughter, looks so much like you? The one that passed away so suddenly at the beginning of this year?”
Janet sat still. She understood everything.

Video editing is hard work

So today I was given the opportunity to learn about using Adobe Premier Pro to edit a short video.

Most of the time that I have been editing videos, I have been shooting on the mobile phone and then using a mobile phone video editing software to edit and then produce the video. But today was different. I had already shot a couple of clips of an event last week. I had wanted to edit it on my mobile phone but I knew I had to try something different.

So today, I begin editing on Adobe Premier Pro. I think sometimes when beginners look at the panels on the editing plane, they kind of freak out. Where do I start? Which button do I press? Where do I click to upload why video clips? Those are questions that any video editor asks. I had the same feeling too. But the plan on self learning has always been to go to Youtube to learn from others. Thats the wonderful thing about YouTube. You can type the subject or the specific instruction and believe me, there is always someone out there who has covered it and has shared his/her knowledge through a video on the Youtube site.

So since lunch time today till this evening, I have been constantly swapping screens with YouTube and Adobe Premier Pro. I’m learning so much. Through this process, I have identified some mistakes that I have done when shooting like making sure my video shooting mode and photo shooting mode are the same. Or that sound and lighting still are important aspects of shooting because it will really help you when you are editing video and sound clips as well.

This is the panel on the editing plane of the Adobe Premier Pro dashboard.
This is what the editing dashboard on the Adobe Premier Pro looks like. As you can see, I am editing a short video using this software.

So Im hoping I complete the story and can share it online on my YouTube Channel. See you later.

Just another day at the beach

Some days are not so good and some days are better than most. Its just how things are. You struggle through work or business or family but sometimes, you have to have time to yourself. Taking time out is important for the mind and for the soul as well. Even calm days at the seaside can do you a world of good. On the weekend, the kids and I went down to the beach to have a swim.

Using my Samsung A52s mobile phone, I shot a few short video clips, mostly 10 seconds long, of different angles. I took this by just mostly holding the phone still in a landscape position after pressing the record button. I took a few pan shots by moving the phone upwards to show distance close to far and moving the phone sideways to show a breadth of the view. After I came home in the evening, I sat down to edit the video. Using Capcut, a simple video editing software, I was able to stitch together the videos on the app’s timeline then applied the same transition along the various video clips. During the editing process, I made sure that each video was 2.8 seconds long. Eventually, the finished product was around 31 seconds long.

Here is the finished product:

Protecting the freedom of expression: DWU Media Freedom Day 2023

Each year on May 5th, Divine Word University recognises the role of media freedom and the challenging work of journalists in maintaining the 4th estate. While the day, internationally, falls on 3rd May each year, DWU does their university event on the 5th. This year’s international Media Freedom Day theme was: Shaping a Future of Rights: Freedom of Expression as a driver for all other human rights.

Staff and students of the Faculty of Arts and Social Science attend the Media Freedom Day event at the SVD Memorial Auditorium.
Staff and students of the Faculty of Arts and Social Science attend the Media Freedom Day event at the SVD Memorial Auditorium.

Focussing on the freedom of expression as key driver for all other human rights, this year’s theme is more relevant to the role of the media, particularly for a thriving democracy such as Papua New Guinea. Even more so, this year the spotlight be shone on the way the government of Papua New Guinea is embarking on steps to create legislation on media. Some, such as one of PNG’s more prominent journalist Mr. Scott Waide, have suggested the proposed legislation could lead to control on the PNG media. Even the Transparency International PNG called for more wider consultation from the public regarding this proposed legislation

On Friday 5th May, 2023, the Department of Communication Arts in the Faculty of Arts and Social Science (FASS), hosted the 2023 Media Freedom Day at its Madang campus. Its own President Fr. Philip Gibbs kicked off proceedings with a short and powerful speech. I really liked what he said about freedom of expression and how the DWU environment provides the room for students to be able to freely express themselves. He also pointed to the DWU Charter, written by the founders of the University 46 years ago, which upheld the key characteristic of authentic freedom.

The Transparency International PNG had its Deputy Director of Communications, Ms. Yvonne Ngutlick talk about the role of the community organisation and its work in PNG. She said that events such as the Media Freedom Day should be used by the communities and the world to remind the Government of their commitments to freedom of the media and its role as the 4th estate.

She said: “In democratic countries like our country, the media becomes a tool for accountability. In Papua New Guinea, where Governments may be lacking or weak, the media’s work becomes crucial because it helps us hold our Government or people in power accountable for the decisions that they make.”

One of PNG’s most prominent and well known journalists, Mr. Scott Waide was also present on the day. Having been a graduate of this university, he has been invited to speak to DWU students in different faculties numerous times. During the Media Freedom Day, he spoke about the role of the media and the need for citizens to act upon information they received from the work of the media.

“if the media has done its job and everything it is supposed to do and if the people who receive this information, do not act on it, then we fail as a country. The media can do its job but if people don’t take this information that is given to them…the education that is given to them and act on it, meaning exercising your rights at the polls or speaking out when its needed, then the media is really ineffective in a democracy.

This year, the Divine Word University was excited to have the presence of the United Nations Resident Coordinator to PNG, His Excellency Richard Stephen Howard Junior to address the DWU Community at the Madang campus. He addressed staff, students, invited guests and visitors at the gathering citing the theme. I particularly liked his take on society having a strong foundation that would give rise to the freedom of expression

He said: “Now several things are needed to be in place to make sure we do have freedom of expression. In any society we need a legal and regulatory environment that allows for open, pluralistic media sector to emerge. So we need the right policies, regulations in place. We need to make sure that once they are in place..they stay in place.

“We need the political will to support this sector so we need to make sure we elect the right kind of leaders that are going to continue to protect our right to speak freely. Then we need the literacy skills among consumers of knowledge,” he said.

After the speeches, the three guests we invited to form a panel of experts and take questions from the audience. This was a fulfilling and enlightening part as the audience got to listen to various perspectives, experiences and views on topics relating to the theme and journalism in general.

The three panelists at the Divine Word University Media Freedom Day 2023 - His Excellency Richard Stephen Howard Junior, Ms. Yvonne Ngutlick and Mr. Scott Waide.
The three panelists at the Divine Word University Media Freedom Day 2023 – His Excellency Richard Stephen Howard Junior, Ms. Yvonne Ngutlick and Mr. Scott Waide.
Divine Word University Media Freedom Day 2023
Divine Word University Media Freedom Day 2023
Divine Word University Media Freedom Day 2023

The event ended at 12.30pm and then the guests were given a tour of the Communication Arts rooms/spaces in the faculty building.

The students and staff of the Communication Arts Department of Divine Word University pose with His Excellency Richard Stephen Howard Junior, Ms. Yvonne Ngutlick and Mr. Scott Waide at the end of the university event.
The students and staff of the Communication Arts Department of Divine Word University pose with His Excellency Richard Stephen Howard Junior, Ms. Yvonne Ngutlick and Mr. Scott Waide at the end of the university event.

DWU Open Day 2023 a hit!

There is something about Divine Word University and its university mandated events! All throughout the year, the university events such as the Graduation, Cultural Day, Missioning, Media Freedom Day, etc have been the opportunity to showcase the cherry on the cake, so to speak – the students. They’ve been at the backend, forefront, leading and managing these university events for a long time. Ask anyone who has passed out from the university an they will tell you, the university events have been the place where students get to experience the best times of their lives. Well, most times. Other times, it’s just a group of dedicated students who lead and manage the rest to bring everything together.

One of these events has been the DWU Open Day. Although it has been an annual event, since COVID arrived in 2020, the event has moved online. However, this year, the event came out of its online status and ran for a full day on the Madang Campus, utlizing the John Paul Hall. The students rose to the occasion and produced a magnificent day on the 14th of May. They came up with ideas on what to display, worked around the clock and brought to life their work. I tried to capture the day through photos but I just couldn’t cover everything. I just produced a short video dedicated to the day.

The Faculty of Business and Informatics won the first place shield as judged by a handful of selected individuals. They really did match the judging criteria and worked as a team to pull of the winning edge in comparison to the other faculties on the day. Congratulations!!!!

Analyzing qualitative research data

Sharing something to assist those up and coming researchers….

When you have collected your research data, the next step in the research process is Data Analysis. One of the first key steps to do is to organise your data first before you can begin the rest of the data analysis process. So this first step involves coding the data. So for me, my data is qualitative (interviews) so I have transcribed (converted audio to written text) the interview and now can begin coding. While many do this manually (using MS Word or print copies of their transcripts), I’m doing mine using a software. There are paid versions out there online and there are also free versions of software online too. This picture below is the face of a free software that is online. You can find some more of them through Google and then later watch YouTube tutorials to teach yourself how to do it just like what I am doing.

As you can see from the picture, the transcribed text is in the middle, while my codes are listed on the left. Every time I read something in the transcript, I code it and its appears on the left. On the right is where the software begins to assist me visualize the connections between the codes thus helping me categorize and develop my themes. It’s a work in progress but its something that I hope to master. Of course, the software is free online so anyone can use it.

I just wanted to share this to say that sometimes when we as Papua New Guineans cannot afford to pay for lessons or go to school, you can always teach yourself how to do things if you spend time finding the good things online on the Internet and use it to solve the issues you may be faced with.

Cement Roads improve the Eriku look

I remember when I started working in Lae in the mid 2000s, Eriku had huge potholes, street drunks, people charging you for sitting down, people crossing the road between cars, litter everywhere, etc. The biggest improvement in Eriku is the road – main roads and roads behind the shops.

Standing at the Eriku overhead bridge looking eastwards

I also see regular police foot patrols, community groups engaged to clean the streets, orderly conduct of buses, etc. Effective leadership is in place and the people of Lae Open know who their leader is. I mean the guy didn’t even campaign during the 2022 national general elections na em win yah! Wok ba tok!

Standing at the Eriku Overhead Bridge looking westwards

You can find more on the Lae City Authority website: https://lca.gov.pg/

A trip up to the Wawin School of Excellence

Wawin National High or known formally as Wawin School of Excellence is one of six Schools of Excellence throughout the country where the top students from secondary schools go to. The other schools are Kerevat, Sogeri, Aiyura, Passam and finally Port Moresby. The best students in the secondary school system througout PNG get selected to join these six Schools of Excellence. The six schools are currently in the phase of introducing the STEM curriculum into their system. It is hoped that eventually, the schools of Excellence will remove the Outcome Based curriculum from their system

The flowers in the court yard are too good
The school looks immaculate this morning

Wawin School of Excellence, located just outside Lae city, is home to students from all over PNG who have completed grade 10 and now are doing grade 11 and 12. The students are boarding so they live at the school grounds and many do not see their families for the whole year. They stay there for two years to complete their school and after that, if successful, they enter a tertiary institution. I did live in a boarding school in high school and secondary school so I understand some of situations students go through at this level of school. Its hard to be away from families but a routine lifestyle at the school will keep you busy and interested.

I remember visiting the school sometime in 2006 but we only stopped at the gate. However, this time, I was able to visit the school and see its environment. The team from the University of Goroka were going to do an awareness session to the grade 12 students on the STAP-P. The STAP-P test is an entry test carried out by both University of Goroka and University of Technology in Lae. They wanted a video of their awareness done for their reporting purposes so I tagged along.

A small park in the school area
A metal plaque showcasing the school has been built by the people of China as a symbol of friendship to the people of PNG

One of the first things I noticed was the dressing of the students. I have visited many schools at the secondary level and have been to visit some of the universities in our country but I can say that the students at this school really stood out. Inside the classroom and along its corridors, the students dressed well, neat and appropriate. They were not in uniform but you could tell by their standard of dressing that they took care of the way they looked and presented themselves. It was, I believe, a reflection of the efficient management of the school too.

Such a long building with numerous classrooms upstairs and downstairs
School hallway

The second thing that I noticed was the vast area of the school. There were are few buildings but there was also a large area of spaces between different buildings of the school. There was grass, even though it had turned brown due to the lack of rainfall this dry season, stretching far from one set of buildings to another. I thought to myself that if they wanted to convert this school into a technical school or even a University, they could easily do that here as the space was huge.

Standing at the school and looking into the mountains of Erap/Nabak at the back of the school grounds
There school canteen next to the school gate

We just spent the day there. I went around taking photos and short video clips on the phone. I took some of the photos in the classrooms and then some of it in the school mess where the awareness was held. It was really good to see the students listen to the two universities (UOG and UNITECH) talk about the STAT-P test to the students. After the talk, we bought some fruits at the school gate and then drove back to Lae.

The video I did as requested by the UOG team who took me up Wawin School of Excellence

Adding value through creative media – the LAKE Media way

“Put up the set lighting! Check aperture, check exposure setting. All good? Okay let me take that photo.”

These are the words of Jeremy Mark as he goes about his business during a photo shoot production at a 3-bedroom stylised apartment property at Lae’s central business district. Lopoki Inc. tagged along to see how Jeremy went about the thought process, techniques and workflow for a production shoot and hoped to learn some tricks of the trade off him. Jeremy runs LAKE Media, a small business operating out of his own home.

Jeremy begins the photo shoot in front of the four unit apartments
We move to the corners and back of the apartments
Jeremy shows me the photos he has taken
Jeremy takes some landscape and portrait photos as well of the backyard area.

Why LAKE media?

“Well LAKE is an acronyms taken from my childrens’ names,” Jeremy explained when I queried the origin of the business name. LAKE Media specializes in video production and other creative content. Since he started the business in 2019, he has been slowly building a portfolio of video and photography engagements with PNG organizations and even international companies. Today, LAKE Media was engaged by a real estate firm to photograph their refurbished apartments so that they could use the photos for their promotion and advertising purposes.

As I helped him carry the camera equipment and set up lighting, I could see a bit of the work that went into creating the appropriate images needed. It takes patience, dedication and most importantly a highly technical knowledge of how the camera works, lighting and other important principles too such as rule of thirds, depth of field, contrast, emphasis, proportion, etc. We went into the property around 12pm led by the real estate team who explained the different sections of the house. Then Jeremy explained to the real estate team the general outline of photos he would take around the property. He pointed out that in the afternoon when the sun gave a nice golden look, usually around 5pm, he would take the drone photos. Jeremy then started taking photos.

Interior photos

He started taking photographs outside. We started on the front, moved to the edges of the unit complex, then to the back of the house. He took mostly landscape photos of the area and building and also some portrait shots too. After that we moved into one of the units where the real estate team had already set up the house with white and brown goods. We set up the lighting set and then he meticulously took photos of the living room, kitchen, laundry, master bedroom and other rooms. The house was a two-storey building so we moved the photography equipment around a bit.

The tools of the trade

Jeremy used a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera with a 16-35mm lens on a tripod, with a lighting kit of four 24W LED lights providing plenty of lighting. He shot everything on a tripod, using slow shutter speeds of 1 to 5 seconds at high apertures (f6 to f8) for sharpness. We moved furniture and carpets to maximize the room and its features in the photographs. It took us around 2 hours to shoot photos of the exterior and interior of the house. After that, we left the property and would come back later in the afternoon to shoot the aerials with a DJI Mavic 2 drone.

While technical knowledge is important, good equipment is the lifeblood of a multimedia production business. I could see that Jeremy had invested in cameras, lenses, a drone, a softbox lighting kit, batteries, media storage devices, cleaning equipment and portable storage bags for all these items. He got a BSP loan of K47,000 to acquire these assets in 2020. While this seems a large amount of money for someone to do this as a microbusiness, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Jeremy had been able to pay back the loan through mostly video production jobs. When I asked him about how he has been getting jobs, he said, “Word of mouth!”

Jeremy’s valuable tools – the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera and two 16-35mm lenses
He begins the photo shoot inside one of the apartments with the camera placed on a tripod to provide stability.
The 24W LED lights provides plenty of lighting.
Later in the afternoon, we stop outside the property and Jeremy uses the DJI Mavic 2 drone to do a photo shoot showcasing the aerial views of the property.

Gaining clients

What he meant by ‘word of mouth’ is what we know as word of mouth marketing or referrals. He explained that early on in his business career, he used social media to advertise LAKE Media services. He used social media to advertise his services around 90% of the time and 10% of the jobs received were through his contacts. When he acquired the first three or four engagements, he worked really hard on them making sure the quality stood out. His quality of his work began to draw in clients outside of his regular circles. His clients appreciated the LAKE Media products and services and this began to build an extensive portfolio that now has provided for over 30 clients. While most of these clients are corporate entities, he has ventured into the tourism, events, health and development work too.

When queried about some of his ongoing jobs, he pointed out that LAKE Media currently provides video production support too. This includes an ongoing video time-lapse of the Nadzab Airport Redevelopment Project which will end in April 2023 when the new terminal is opened. Since he runs a one person operation, he explained that LAKE Media also engages other photographers and videographers too. For example, in Lae, when there is a high demand for video or photo production for events especially corporate functions and weddings, he gives these jobs to other media partners too.

Values in the business

Lopoki Inc. asked Jeremy what he attributed his success to. He said a lot of things including support from his family and having discipline but the one thing that anchors his business and personal life is a phrase he once heard spoken by one of his role models, Fr Jan Czuba, “Be a person of value, rather than a person of success.” He elaborated: “My day is about adding value in everything I do whether at work or home. I don’t concern myself with successes because it gets to your head and makes you too comfortable. Instead I focus on value. What is it that I can do to make a product or service better, or add to a conversation to find solutions?”

Challenges

What are his challenges? When COVID-19 came, the jobs diminished as travel was restricted, LAKE media couldn’t get jobs as other businesses stopped giving out jobs so as to save money. Even gaining jobs required going though the process of testing and isolation which was not business effective. Today, business is picking up slowly but other pressing matters still occupy the forefront of running a small business. There is also the issue where jobs can be intermittent so one has to be develop other streams of income too. One positive is that Jeremy has a permanent and formal job working in Lae city for the last 10 years so he does LAKE Media on the weekends and during his breaks.

When he cannot attend jobs during week days, he has a pool of talented creatives he sends to do the jobs. “That’s why I focus a lot of my time on training the young guys that work with me. Some run their own businesses so we’re always collaborating to find the right chemistry and people with great work ethic to deliver jobs that can be demanding. “Sometimes, I knock back job requests because no one is around to do them as the guys are always doing something every other week. We find a good work life balance most days so it’s a matter of planning for the best and worst so to speak.” he said.

A message to others

Does he have any words of advice to others who are contemplating their business ideas or starting out in their small business endeavors? “Well, my message to the young guns starting out in a photography or video making business, or any other field, is put your head down and get the work done. Stop stressing over likes and views and chasing clout. Strategize and distribute your content on your socials if you must on a regularly basis however market your skills face to face too. This is because networking with businesses and individuals in person is still the gold standard. Stop appealing for followers online rather focus on getting skilled up, show up, get the work done and then go home. Do that for one year straight and you’ll wake up one day and find your inbox is full of job requests.”

Lopoki Inc. supports the work of small business such as LAKE Media not only because it tells the story of being disciplined in growing your business through a good values system but also about being able to produce quality content that add value to organisations operating in PNG.