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Wantagh Teen to Document Diversity Through Hofstra Program

Our Lady of Mercy Academy senior Catherine Litvaitis is one of 10 students chosen to participate in Hofstra's Documenting Diversity program this summer.

A Wantagh teen will have a chance to document diversity this summer through a Hofstra University program.

Catherine Litvaitis was one of 10 students from Long Island and New York City high schools chosen to participate in this year’s Documenting Diversity program at Hofstra. The program, which is now in its sixth year, is designed to be an innovative summer initiative that teaches and challenges students to examine each other’s cultures through the art of documentary film-making. 

Litvaitis, who is entering her senior year at Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, was also one of a select few students in Hofstra’s High School Journalism Institute last summer. The free five-week program she will take part in this summer is funded by The Rosenthal Family Foundation, a charitable organization established by Hofstra alumni Monica Horan Rosenthal and Phil Rosenthal, creator and executive producer of the award-winning television series “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

“I've always been interested in film, so I knew that this would be the perfect program for me, especially since I'm considering studying film in college,” said Litvatis, who referred to music as a her major inspiration. “Since all of the people in the program are from varying diverse and interesting backgrounds, I hope to get a deeper understanding of the world around me.” 

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Litvaitis, 17, is very active in extracurricular activities at Our Lady of Mercy including writing for the school’s OLMANAC newspaper and participating in Reverse-Shakespeare Company, Video Club and the National Honor Society. She also for Patch. 

For the program, Litvaitis will be paired up with another high school student from a different ethnic background to make a documentary under the guidance of the university’s award-winning television and film faculty and student mentors. Once her short film is complete, Litvaitis and the other participating students will be invited back to Hofstra for a red-carpet gala in the fall where their documentaries are publicly screened.

“I want the purpose of my film to zero in on the person as a whole,” Litvaitis said. “We are people before labels and that is what I want to get across with my documentary.”

 

 

Chris Wendt July 13, 2012 at 10:49 AM
Congratulations to Catherine for landing this terrific opportunity! A word of advice, however: avoid any preconception of the degree of similarity between people of diverse cultures, religious beliefs (creeds), and life circumstance; try to allow true "diversity" to show through, but be aware of the tendencies of assimilation and reverse assimilation. Prepare to have your own beliefs and notions about yourself challenged in the process. 1. We are not all the same, which may sound obvious, but the danger in a "diversity" study is in trying to ameliorate real differences and to promote imaginary similarities. 2. Certain other cultural, religious, or societal values may actually have greater validity or relevance than your own; they will likely beheld as strongly by others as you hold your own values for yourself. Best of luck!

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