This edition of From Our Eyes features Ruthie Weeks (‘25 Broadcast Journalism and Documentary major; Peace Studies minor). Weeks worked with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad for her Unsung Stories and Expressions course, documenting Murad for Nadia’s Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to rebuilding communities in crisis and advocating globally for survivors of sexual violence.

Nadia Murad is many things.

A Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. The founder of Nadia’s Initiative. The author of her memoir, The Last Girl and one of Time magazine’s 2024 Women of the Year (just to name a few).

Murad’s incredible accomplishments are plentiful and admirable, though they barely scratch the surface of the strong woman I was privileged enough to get to know last spring.

Murad loves fashion, hair, and makeup. She loves spending time with family. She is a college student. She shares a beautiful relationship with her husband Abid. All of these traits make her the amazing person she is, and filming with her, throughout her time at Chapman, was an important learning experience for which I am grateful.

I was one of many students in the class Unsung Stories and Expressions, taught by Peace Studies professor Lisa Leitz and Dodge film professor Christine Fugate, who had the honor of working on one of four films for Nadia’s Initiative, covering a variety of subjects that pertain to her work. The class contained Peace Studies  and Film students, creating an interdisciplinary environment to foster learning and growth.

My group’s film serves the purpose of introducing Murad, giving a brief overview of her background and the work she is doing. I was lucky enough to film with her several times over her visit at Chapman, from her talk with Chapman University President Daniele Struppa at Musco, to getting a blowout at the hair salon. My personal favorite was spending a morning with Murad and her husband, where he cooked a traditional Yazidi brunch for us. It was delicious!

We got to know her personally, so we could learn about who she is outside of her work in order to create a more authentic film. Though many of these moments did not make it to our film, I know I speak for each person in my group in saying what a great experience it was to spend time getting to know Nadia Murad.

Documentary filmmaking is a powerful tool for creating social change, and working with an organization doing such important work was a great opportunity. I was even able to attend the Peace and Justice Studies Association Conference, where I spoke on a panel about the process of creating our film, screening it to other students and scholars.

Creating a film for Nadia’s Initiative was powerful, educational, and inspiring. Working on projects that help make change is extremely fulfilling. These films made by a class of hardworking, dedicated, and talented students will screen Tuesday, March 12 at 7 Dodge’s Folino Theater. You will not want to miss the stories of the impactful work Nadia Murad is doing.

Learn more about the event on March 12!