HOPE Was Here: Alum Reflects on HOPE Journey In Film
February 28, 2013
As hundreds of Stonehill students spend their Spring Break helping communities around the world through the College's HOPE program, one trip is being chronicled through the lens of a camera. Footage from the HOPE trip in Peru will be used in a documentary film being made by alumnus Travis Kumph '10 titled "HOPE Was Here.
The film is based off Kumph's book, "Peace of Me: Reflections of Service and Self Discovery," which documents the profound impact service trips had on him when he was a student at Stonehill.
"I have to credit HOPE for giving me the opportunities to step out of my comfort zone and try new things. My time in Peru shaped who I am and clarified who I wanted to be. Stonehill embraced that and allowed me to continue to try new things and take chances in the classroom and on campus," says Kumph, who traveled to Peru five times as a student.
The idea to make his book into a film was somewhat of a pipe dream Kumph admits but to his surprise, that dream has very quickly become a reality.
"The documentary is a result of fate and a good friend. While visiting some friends from high school I mentioned my book. One of my friends in turn mentioned it to a roommate of his, aspiring documentary filmmaker Mark Denega," recalls Kumph. The two connected and immediately got to work on the film.
"I said yes right away because it seemed like a great opportunity for me to get my start in documentary filmmaking," says Denega, a Boston University graduate.
Filming began during last year's HOPE trips when Denega and Kumph joined 18 Stonehill students in Peru where they worked at Fe y Alegría, a local school, as well as at Yancana Huasay, a rehabilitation center and school that caters primarily to children with mental and physical disabilities.
"One of the greatest rewards of doing the film has been seeing Mark in Peru and how he, despite the camera gear, has managed to have amazing experiences and has been just as much a participant as a cameraman," says Kumph.
Going into the project, Denega knew little about international volunteering. "I've learned more from making this movie than I have in my entire life. Too much to put into words," notes Denega.
Now in its 16th year, the HOPE Alternative Spring Break Program at Stonehill gives students the opportunity to not only learn about new cultures and see different parts of the world, but also the chance to help make a difference by helping those in need.
For Kumph, his first HOPE trip back in 2007 changed his life. "Something clicked and instead of being half-hearted, I was engaged like never before." An unfocused student, Kumph almost dropped out twice during his freshman year.
"For ten days, I was immersed in chores and responsibilities. Most of all, I had an opportunity to use my skills to help others. Without a doubt, it was the most exhilarating and eye-opening experience of my young life."
Kumph says he hopes the film will provide perspective on short-term service trips like HOPE, which have sparked harsh criticism by some.
"I myself still struggle when weighing the pros and cons of these trips. However, everything I have done and continue to do is largely based on my experiences in Peru. The documentary raises the question of whether or not these trips are worthwhile and although it doesn't provide a clear answer, the footage and testimonies of students and community partners speak volumes about the value of these trips. I hope this documentary and the book piqué interest and curiosity, inspiring those who wouldn't give volunteering a second thought to consider doing just that."
While a completion date has not been set, filming will wrap when Kumph and Denega return to the U.S. from Peru next week. The two are hoping for a Fall 2013 release with a premiere screening at Stonehill.
Kumph currently works as a residential program manager at Crotched Mountain Rehabilitation Center in southern New Hampshire where he oversees several residential group homes for children with developmental disabilities. He also co-founded Friends New England (FNE), a non-profit dedicated to sustainable social development and educational projects in Nicaragua and Peru, with fellow Stonehill alumni Mike Cipoletti '99 and Anna DeSousa '97.
A preview of "HOPE Was Here" is available on the film's website http://hopewasherefilm.com/. Kumph's memoir is available for purchase on Amazon.com.
For more information, contact Communications and Media Relations at 508-565-1321.