Student-produced, student-focused web video has long been a goal of ours, and this year we’re thrilled to have not one but two hit video serials. In addition to the previously-mentioned freshman advice series Alyssa Explains It All, we have Kwame Belle’s Bucket List, which introduces viewers to interesting facets of our campus and community.
Kwame has been one of my best bloggers and this year stepped up to a social media internship, which requires producing some major work or works. One day he mentioned an idea he had of a bucket list where he solicited things to do before he graduated– in the Oswego community as well as around campus — and blog about doing them. I suggested a video series directed by talented graduate assistant Kevin Graham, and subsequently learned we’re all fans of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservation series, which influenced the project.
Thus Kwame Belle’s Bucket List unfolds as a bit of a travelogue (minus Bourdain’s excessive drinking and swearing), as Kwame pursues each episode in a journalistic vein. He’ll interview fellow students partaking in a polar plunge, locals learning how to rock-climb or the captain of the women’s hockey team showing him skating tips. Kwame himself is a character, an engaging host and eager participant, never afraid of how foolish he may look in the process. He also brings intellectual heft to the proceedings: During an apple-picking episode, he juxtaposed the freshman and senior experience, discussed Sir Isaac Newton and pondered the anthropology of dating.
Since our major social media efforts should meet a goal, the bucket list answers one of the biggest questions from prospective and current students: What’s there to do in Oswego? We’re a small city on Lake Ontario and while scenery and a charming downtown are draws, we’re far from a metropolitan or cosmopolitan area. Students considering Oswego wonder if they’ll find anything to do and frequently ask the question.
We’ve focused on things to do that characterize the campus, town and region. For example, Kwame went fishing from the banks of the Oswego River for a recent episode; to send him on a chartered boat trip would have made for good video but would have represented something not affordable to most students. That he spent one episode soliciting opinions from students, which led to some subsequent shows, and seeks feedback via social media makes it interactive and somewhat user-driven.
The series draws respectable numbers — not as high as Alyssa’s, but constantly building — and has developed an ardent following among members of the campus community and alumni. The episodes are longer than I generally recommend for web video, but they create a compelling tale with the help of other characters and guides, so watching a whole episode is worth it. With he and Kevin working hard from a meaty roster of ideas, the main challenge will be when Kwame fulfills the ultimate item on his bucket list … and graduates from Oswego. Wherever he goes from here, it’s good to know his video adventures will live on.