Case de Paz: Providing hospitality to those affected by immigrant detention

For my audio slideshow I decided to highlight a local organization, Casa de Paz. As can be seen from the array of household photos the organization is manned by few volunteers in a suburban home across from the Aurora Detention Center. The photos range from home-made thank you cards, cozy living room furniture, eloquent meals prepared by college students, interacting with immigrants, and the everyday duties of running a 2-bedroom house. I was fortunate enough to meet Paul, a well-spoken Haitian staying at Casa de Paz who seeks asylum in the United States. I also interviewed Erin, a college student who volunteers at the Casa in her spare time. I feel as if the photographs captured the loving and cozy Casa.

There are a few stories I am seeking to tell with my photographs. First, to shed light on the organization itself. The first photo is that of a mailbox and picket fence –this depicts the very welcoming nature of the organization. The title slide gives an introduction and lists the many resources that the Casa provides. The second point is touched on in Erin’s piece, which describes the dire need for a halfway house or a transition between the detention center and the real world. Lastly, I wanted to humanize the immigrant detainees with Paul’s narration. I end on Paul’s story because it is both humble and ambitious as he wants to better himself and this country by becoming a mechanical engineer.

I chose the photos I did because they were visual stimulating and emphasized the story told via audio.  I tried to capture a variety of shots by; shooting indoors and out, focusing on depth of field, using the rule of thirds, etc. I mostly wanted to emphasize light and dark photos. This is because I wanted my photos to insight various emotions. Some photos are bright, possibly over exposed, which interprets as pure and happy. While the dim or silhouetted photos are mysterious and dark. This was how I felt during my time at the Casa. The organization is doing the best it can in a country that seeks to vet more immigrants than ever. With this, although Paul is one of the lucky ones to have arrived to the United States and to be freed from the detention center – his story is still heartbreaking and his future uncertain.

I believe that my use of audio and photography depict this story of mostly hope and brisk hardship. I decided to use format my sequence in such a manor to both start and end on a high note. The starting point was Erin’s commentary on the necessity for the organization. The end was Paul’s segment on the beauty of helping people who cannot give anything in return. The process for this was a long and tedious one. I had a few setbacks when contacting the organization – as there are only three people who run the Casa. I had multiple appointments, all of which were delayed. Despite this, the interviews went extremely well. Honing my photography skills using the Canon DSLR was fun, although I had to improvise as it is much more difficult shooting moving subjects. Experimenting with Adobe Premier was a bit tedious but alas a valuable skill to have. Next time, I will do a better job of transcribing my audio prior to video making as this will save time listening to 20 minutes of recordings.

To reflect, shadowing this organization has been the most educational and valuable experience this quarter. The generous volunteers and Paul’s heartwarming story really struck a chord with me – I know I will be going back. Paul and I still keep in touch; he is in Florida living with his cousin and hopes to obtain a visa soon. I witnessed the first phone call he had with his mother in over two years. I am certain good things are to come for Casa de Paz and the population they serve.


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