Joe Williams

Graduate to Show Argentina Documentary to Campus

October 12, 2005

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Joe Williams of Arlington Heights, Ill., a 2005 graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University, will return to campus October 13 to present The Porteno Passage, a documentary film he made while studying abroad in Argentina during the fall semester of 2004.  The presentation will take place at 7 p.m. in room C101 of IWU’s Center for Natural Science (201 Beecher St., Bloomington).

As a recipient of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which awarded him $3,000 toward his semester abroad, Williams was required to complete a project that would support study abroad opportunities at his home university upon his return to the United States.  An avid movie fan who has considered attending film school, he elected to film a documentary of his semester in South America in order to give potential study abroad students an insider’s perspective on life as an American student in Argentina.  

“Before I left, I tried to talk to people who had been to Argentina and all they would say was that it was ‘great’ or ‘awesome,’” said WIlliams.  “I wanted to create something that would show every aspect of my experience, the changes I saw within myself before, during and afterwards.”  From his anxiety before leaving home to going out at night in Argentina to the reverse culture shock when he returned, Williams made every effort to speak honestly while entertaining and educating his audience.

With over 20 hours of footage to work with, Williams spent the summer editing the film and writing a script so as to present his experience in a concise, engaging and coherent way.  “To edit one minute of film the way I want takes about an hour,” he said of the time required to complete the project. 

 The Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program, established in 2000 by the International Academic Opportunity Act and sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, offers grants to undergraduate students who might otherwise be financially unable to study abroad. 

Applicants for the program must be eligible for the federal Pell Grant and are encouraged to study outside of popular destinations such as Western Europe and Australia.  Williams, too, hopes his film will give students the information and insight they need to broaden their horizons.  Last fall, “I was the only Illinois Wesleyan student in Argentina,” he said.  “I’d like to encourage more students to go to South America.”

Contact: Rebecca Welzenbach, (309) 556-3181