UCL Global Citizenship Programme – Filming in a lift has its ups and downs

7 June 2017 | ResolutionPossible

As part of the Active Citizenship strand of UCL’s Global Citizenship Programme, Resolution:Possible is hosting several students for two weeks to learn about what it means to be an ‘active citizen’. Here are some thoughts from the participants about their experiences throughout their time with us.

Steffan Gwynn is an Anthropology student at UCL with an interest in the environment, conservation, and sustainability. 

Throw together ten people, fancy dress, and a few confused onlookers in a lift and what do you get? A #ThinkBetter campaign video highlighting the need to keep an open mind in uncomfortable situations.

Certainly, those people who were unlucky enough to join us in riding the elevator during the hour and a half it took to film our campaign video for Resolution Possible appeared more bemused than anything else as they took a look around them at the bright pink wigs, silver hats, and the assortment of novelty glasses. They certainly weren’t fearful, as the two main characters of our film are when confronted with the same situation.
Our video puts two individuals in a lift in the midst of a flurry of foreign conversations taking place around them. From a Dutch woman complaining about people who clean out their ears with a pencil to an angry phone conversation in Serbian about a missing sandwich, our main characters feel themselves vulnerable within the narrative of our film. Reacting somewhat to Nigel Farage’s assertion that he feels ‘awkward’ when foreign-language conversations are taking place around him, the video seeks to uncover something of what is going through the worried minds of people such as Farage, and to offer an alternative.

We have all, perhaps, been in a situation such as this. We have all maybe wondered whether the couple sitting opposite us on the bus are talking about us. Is that man on the tube trying surreptitiously to take a picture of me and my friend? Or is that woman glaring at me or at someone sitting behind me, or maybe no one at all? What this video attempts to convey is the fact that we needn’t be worried. We needn’t feel awkward or under threat in situations such as these. ‘Think Better’ in this instance is merely a way to remind us that those who are distinct from us are, in most cases, more similar than not. Their worries are our worries, and the subjects that they talk about in elevators are just as benign as ours.

Maybe it was the colourful wigs but, during the course of filming the #ThinkBetter campaign video for Resolution Possible, it was encouraging to come across not the worried looks that marked the faces of our own characters, but the perplexed smile and queries of unsuspecting members of the UCL Physics department.

Our hope is that, in watching the video, people will be prompted to think twice when they are confronted with difference. ‘Think better’ should inspire us to look again at those around us, and to approach all that we encounter with an open mind.

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