Taste of Informatics

Women in Coffee: Documenting Disparity, Connections, and Change

September 24, 2021 Informatics+, College of Informatics, Northern Kentucky University Season 1 Episode 9
Taste of Informatics
Women in Coffee: Documenting Disparity, Connections, and Change
Show Notes Transcript

The coffee you drink passes through 18 different sets of hands before it arrives in yours. It was likely planted, picked, and processed by women who account for the majority of coffee workers, in an industry controlled, managed and monetized by men.

Join professor Sara Drabik as she recounts her work with the International Women's Coffee Alliance and her forthcoming documentary film that will help people understand how coffee impacts international communities, people, and the environment through the lens of women in coffee. In her lively conversation with host Mike Nitardy, she discusses the experiential learning opportunities that students in NKU's Electronic Media and Broadcasting program have, including working on the documentary on location in Guatemala.

Discover your passion in the Electronic Media and Broadcasting program at NKU.

Mike Nitardy:

Welcome back to the Informatics Cafe. I'm your host, Mike Nitardy, and in the Cafe with us today we have Sarah Drabik. She is a documentary filmmaker, and an associate professor and director for Electronic Media and Broadcasting at Northern Kentucky University specializing in nonfiction storytelling. Her work has been featured by National Public Radio, PBS affiliates, and at several national conferences and festivals. Her current research is a collaboration with the International Women's Coffee Alliance, and explores the changing roles of women in the international coffee industry. Sara teaches courses in documentary film and media literacy, focusing on experiential learning and study abroad opportunities. She has led NKU students in a variety of media work through countries including Scotland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, the Czech Republic, and Guatemala. Sara also proudly serves as the vice president of Women in Film Cincinnati. Sara's well down the path of a longitudinal documentary research project, creating a documentary looking at women in the international coffee industry. And Sara, it is so amazing to have you here in the cafe to talk to us about all these things today. Welcome.

Sara Drabik:

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Mike Nitardy:

So I guess the place to jump in right away is to the women in the international coffee industry and everything that you're doing there, but we've got so much to talk about today. But why don't you just get started there and about your work in that area?

Sara Drabik:

Well, I became involved with the IWCA International Women's Coffee Alliance, been almost 10 years ago, it's been about a decade now, through some connections here. It's it's weird how you get involved with projects, right? You know...

Mike Nitardy:

Right.

Sara Drabik:

...one person, you meet another person, you have this conversation, and all of a sudden, they're inviting you to Guatemala to film this conference.

Mike Nitardy:

[laughing]

Sara Drabik:

And you go, Oh, that sounds great.

Mike Nitardy:

Right. Right.

Sara Drabik:

Sure, we'll go down in Guatemala, and film this conference. And so it was the third annual conference, I believe, yeah, the third annual conference for the IWCA down there. And that's when coffee growers from all around the world come, you know, to this conference to learn to share, like what most conferences do. So we filmed there.

Mike Nitardy:

Mmm hmm.

Sara Drabik:

It was very interesting, but we also got to go to some of the farms. We did these farm visits and tours, where we stayed on the farm. And, you know, we got to walk around and see what they were doing and learn the process. And I just said, Wow, there's so much more of a story here than just us covering this conference.

Mike Nitardy:

Right. Right.

Sara Drabik:

You know, this is kind of, there's a lot here. And I was just very fascinated by it. And being in a coffee drinker, I all of a sudden realized, I never never really t hought too much about..

Mike Nitardy:

Exactly.

Sara Drabik:

...where my coffee came from.

Mike Nitardy:

Exactly right.

Sara Drabik:

As I think most people don't think about it. It's just what you need to have in the morning.

Mike Nitardy:

Right, yeah.

Sara Drabik:

It's what you make, you know, deals over at lunch, you know, let's go have a coffee. And learning all of that I just kind of went down the rabbit hole, you know, and the more I learned, the more fascinated I got. And then the connections that it has to Cincinnati, at least in Guatemala, that particular farm -- Coffee Emporium in Cincinnati has a direct trade relationship with them. And so I was surprised to find out, I've been drinking that coffee...

Mike Nitardy:

Wow!

Sara Drabik:

...you know, for the last decade or more, but never really thought about it. And now, I never drink a coffee without thinking about where it came from and who was involved in it. And all the different ways we're connected with that just you know, through through community through the economy ecologically. It's it's really fascinating. I mean, you can tell I could just be like, woooooo.

Mike Nitardy:

No, no, no, no that's great. Because this is fascinating topic. And I lov the way that just from the ver beginning that you're talkin about getting involved in it, guess somebody had asked you t go down there and do som filming. And then so that' obviously led to this passion i your life. So from that trip then walk us through how you go involved then in women in coff e, and all these issues that re important issues.

Sara Drabik:

Yeah. So you know, after that conference, we filmed we were there for about a week and came back we put together the piece that we were hired to do, you know, which was on the conference thanking their sponsors for the conference. And then honestly, almost a year or so went by, right because...a year or so went by. [laughing]

Mike Nitardy:

Life happens, right?

Sara Drabik:

Life happens! That's what happens and, then but I had all this information still and I started working more with Tony and Eileen are the owners of Coffee Emporium. We had become friends because they were on the trip. And so I was learning more, and learning more about the coffee and all these different relationships. And then two years later, I had the chance to take students to South Africa for a study abroad.

Mike Nitardy:

Mmm hmmm.

Sara Drabik:

And I said well, I mean, I'll be in Africa anyway. So a lot of coffee comes from Africa...

Mike Nitardy:

Right, right.

Sara Drabik:

Maybe I could figure out a way to go visit some more farms while I'm here. And so I reached out to the IWCA to the contacts I had there and they said absolutely that'd be fantastic. We have some wonderful farms in Tanzania and they would love to host you. So got you know, a grant, travel grant. We have a lot of logistics involved.

Mike Nitardy:

Right.

Sara Drabik:

But then the after the students left, I stayed in South Africa and then went up to Tanzania, and got to stay there and visit more farms there and filmed a lot and worked and met some unbelievably amazing people along the way. Started to learn a lot more about the involvement of women in the coffee industry, because the majority of the work in coffee around the world is done by women...

Mike Nitardy:

No kidding?

Sara Drabik:

...and the majority... You need dexterous hands.

Mike Nitardy:

See, that's interesting.

Sara Drabik:

Yeah. And so and that's what a lot of it it is. And but you know, the majority of coffee is controlled, sold and managed by men. Which is in itself, not a bad thing. But in several of these communities, and in several countries and cultures, that means that the money is not always going back to the women in the community and the families.

Mike Nitardy:

Right.

Sara Drabik:

At the end of the day. It also means that I was learning that a lot of the training that gets done in coffee, where you learn how to manage your crops better. You learn how to work with the environment, and work with the water flow, and you produce better coffee and you you sell it for a higher price. All this training, all the men went to, but then they never translate it to the women who were actu ally doing the work in the fields.

Mike Nitardy:

No kidding. Wow.

Sara Drabik:

And so most of this information was lost. And so the coffee yields were remaining low, they weren't getting a good price market...

Mike Nitardy:

Oh my goodness!

Sara Drabik:

...you know, they weren't, they weren't improving. And so what the IWCA does is -- they have chapters around the world -- is that they help facilitate training and leadership seminars for women that are involved in it.

Mike Nitardy:

Fantastic.

Sara Drabik:

And so you've seen in some of these regions, where the coffee has not just improved, but their communities have improved.

Mike Nitardy:

That's fantastic.

Sara Drabik:

Because of it. And o we got to see that in

Mike Nitardy:

Wow! anzania. And then, after I went o Tanzania, a few years later,

Sara Drabik:

...see a lot of the coffee growing there and film a wrote a project grant and got chance to go to India, and... lot there. And that was really great to see what they were doing in the communities -- a lot with health and families and children. So it's, it's weird that all these other things are connected to just coffee.

Mike Nitardy:

Right.

Sara Drabik:

But in learning more about the ecological impacts that are happening with climate change, and how coffee as we know it -- I don't want don't want to scare your listeners -- but coffee as we know it, it probably won't be around for much longer if we...

Mike Nitardy:

No, that does scare the host. [laughter]

Sara Drabik:

Right? It scares everybody because of climate change they're having to... coffee needs a very specific climate. So that's why we dont...

Mike Nitardy:

I'm so ignorant when it comes to coffee.

Sara Drabik:

Yeah, there's the green belt of coffee that goes around the world. And it you know, it goes from the equator out. And so that's where all the coffee comes from, because of the climate there. So we don't grow coffee here. Well, the only place the United States you can really grow coffee is Hawaii. And so we have Hawaiian coffee out there. And that's another place I'd like to go because I just would also like to go to Hawaii.

Mike Nitardy:

Well that would be awesome. I was going to say! I'd like to go -- when you get your grant for that trip.

Sara Drabik:

Yeah. Right? Right?

Mike Nitardy:

[laughter]

Sara Drabik:

So, so yeah, I mean, I'm just I could I could keep talking about it. But I got to go to India, and then after that got to go to Rwanda. I have also been back to Guatemala several times and have brought students to the coffee farm as study abroad work. Gotten them kind of connected to it. And it's amazing to see them kind of open up to "Wow, yeah, I hadn't really thought of where my coffee came from." And that can apply to almost anything we as Americans enjoy.

Mike Nitardy:

Right.

Sara Drabik:

Right? We often don't think about the larger systems involved in the production of it.

Mike Nitardy:

No doubt.

Sara Drabik:

And there's a lot there. And I think understanding that more about coffee, which is hopefully what this documentary will help people see -- you know, a little bit more about how many communities and people are involved in it -- will help them to buy more responsibly, enjoy more responsibly, but also just enjoy good coffee. Oh,

Mike Nitardy:

No, that sounds...so let's talk about that a little bit. So where are we in the process? When I say we I mean, obviously, I mean, you. [laughter] in the process of documenting...

Sara Drabik:

You can join, come on in. I need some help.

Mike Nitardy:

No, this...I sounds awesome. I mean, we wan to talk a little bit about that We want to explain a little b t to our listeners wha longitudinal research is, bu also about the documentary tha you're working on and and ho it's coming along and where it' going and all that good stuff

Sara Drabik:

Sure. Well, the longitudinal part is basically, this is not just a snapshot of what's happening in time. It's not one incident, it's looking at something and how it's changing and affecting many other factors along the way. And so basically, it takes a long time. [laughter]

Mike Nitardy:

Right, right. Yeah.

Sara Drabik:

It's not, you know, "oh, yeah, we went to Gu'atemala, and we filmed for a month or so. And then we made a documentary about it," which is very interesting, and would be great. But we're going back several times and seeing what's been happening..

Mike Nitardy:

Exactly.

Sara Drabik:

...so that we can present it as kind of like a longer term. You can see the change, you can see the patterns and you can kind of see where things are going with the changes in coffee. And there are a lot of them from just the economy. I mean, coffee is sold on the market, just like any other consumer product, and so the volatility of the price is a big issue for farmers. As I mentioned, the changing climate is a big issue for farmers, but also just the different... keeping up with all the different growing processes, and there's there's a lot of work with hybrids and how to make stronger coffee that can withstand drought that can withstand, you know, different things.

Mike Nitardy:

Wow.

Sara Drabik:

So looking at that, but really looking also at the changing role of women.

Mike Nitardy:

Mmm hmm.

Sara Drabik:

Because women have always, as I mentioned, always been involved in coffee, but the IWCA over time, is really making some important changes, not just in the coffee industry, but again in the communitie s and that's something I wanted to try to tell the story of...

Mike Nitardy:

Sure.

Sara Drabik:

...and that takes time.

Mike Nitardy:

Yes.

Sara Drabik:

It's not...you have to be very patient especially in some of these countries. It takes over a year to to even get a chapter formed because of the politics.

Mike Nitardy:

Exactly.

Sara Drabik:

Because of the culture. It's very very difficult for women to walk into a room in some countries around the world and to say yes, we'd like a seat at the table.

Mike Nitardy:

Right.

Sara Drabik:

It doesn't happen easily.

Mike Nitardy:

Right.

Sara Drabik:

And so showing just the sheer determination of some of these women, the stories that we've captured, it's just like...

Mike Nitardy:

Fantastic.

Sara Drabik:

Yeah, it's really exciting. You know.

Mike Nitardy:

So, what is the, I guess the IWCA is their, is part of it I would assume -- and ple se correct me from wrong and et our listeners know -- th t you know, what they're try ng to increase is not just the quity involved for the women th t are workers but also perhaps o get them more up the chain in terms of ownership and is that p rt of what the goal is?

Sara Drabik:

Yes, a lot of it is leadership training. It is allowing women to... to show them that they can be managers. That they can be in charge that they can make decisions and have you know a higher seat at the table. And in some countries I'm amazed to see that they're actually in some ways more advanced than we are here, you know, as far as how they do deal with -- like there are women in Parliament, their... half of their parliament, you know is with women. But coffee is a very specific industry...

Mike Nitardy:

Interesting.

Sara Drabik:

...and so the industry can be a little different than the overall government.

Mike Nitardy:

Very interesting. Very interesting. So where are you in the process with the documentary?

Sara Drabik:

Well, we've been filming now for eight years.

Mike Nitardy:

Wow.

Sara Drabik:

You know, and every time I say "okay, we're done filming, we're really this is time it's time to kind of put it together," then something else amazing happens you know...

Mike Nitardy:

Right, right, right.

Sara Drabik:

...and I go Oh, we have to go capture that! The story's not over yet.

Mike Nitardy:

Yeah.

Sara Drabik:

And that is one problem you know, in working with this kind of storytelling is where do you stop?

Mike Nitardy:

Right.

Sara Drabik:

But I have gotten a sabbatical and I said okay, taking this sabbatical and this is it. I'm putting together what we have and we're going to be in post production.

Mike Nitardy:

Okay.

Sara Drabik:

That being said, I'm going to be doing some of this in Guatemala because it's... I find myself so inspired when I'm there, to go stay with Olga and talk to her and see what's happening. It's far more interesting to be working in the post production field there. And this is the preliminary edit, you know like the rough cut. I'll come back here and be in a professional editing suite to do like the finishing touches. But it's also when they're going to be having harvest and this will be the first harvest kind of after COVID. And it'll be really interesting to see now how this global pandemic has also affected coffee and the women and everyone involved.

Mike Nitardy:

Wow.

Sara Drabik:

So I think there'll be...

Mike Nitardy:

Yes.

Sara Drabik:

...just a little more filming.

Mike Nitardy:

I was gonna say it sounds like it. Sounds like there should be.

Sara Drabik:

Just a little bit.

Mike Nitardy:

I mean, how do you turn that away. It's like, "no we can't. That's that's a big part of the story but we're going to ignore it."

Sara Drabik:

Right. It's very difficult when you're down there to not just keep filming because it's so beautiful.

Mike Nitardy:

Yeah.

Sara Drabik:

I highly encourage anybody whether you're really into coffee or not -- but if you are into coffee it makes it more interesting -- to go and visit what they say "at origin." Go to origin to see where the cof ee is grown. Many of the pl

Mike Nitardy:

Mmm hmm. ces around origin, they have coffee farm tours.

Sara Drabik:

You know it's a tourist thing so you can just you know, say I want to be a part of a coffee coffee farm tour and you get to stay on the farms. It is absolutely gorgeous. And the coffee is delicious.

Mike Nitardy:

I was gonna say, does it taste even better down there?

Sara Drabik:

Oh my gosh, it really does! And you know, it's the same coffee, especially like Olga's coffee from the where we go in Guatemala. I'm like how does it taste so much better...

Mike Nitardy:

Right, right.

Sara Drabik:

... when I'm here? But I think it's their water too because they have like mountain spring water they make it with.

Mike Nitardy:

Amazing. Yeah. Amazing. See, I mean, you're making my mouth water. I just want to go get some coffee. [laughter]

Sara Drabik:

Yeah, it's really good. And I will say: Am I a

Mike Nitardy:

Mmm hmm. coffee snob at this point? Maybe a little bit, but I enjoy all types of coffee. You don't have to be some kind of connoisseur

Sara Drabik:

You shouldn't get a second cup for free. You that can be like, Oh yes, I pick up the nutty floral, blah, blah, blah, to appreciate and just know what you like and have good coffee. But it's just all about kind of understanding where it came from, the process involve in it. And you honestly -- co fee shouldn't be cheap. shouldn't get unlimited refills. If you are somebody down that product chain is not getting the money they deserve.

Mike Nitardy:

See I was going to actually... That's intere ting that you go... that you ve stated... that I was going o... That's next place. was goi g to go is, what should ur listeners know about consum ng coffee? And maybe to help y u know what you're doing and th n also to help women in coffee? o I guess maybe basically ju t take the floor on tha

Sara Drabik:

Yeah. Just ask questions. Know where it comes from, you know. I mean, Americans are getting much better, you know, we're all getting much better about this. Wondering, well, where did that chicken come from? I mean, there's the joke of did it hav a happy life, you know, and l ke making, making sure all of t at with our other food, I th nk we're getting better about t at we're getting better about cr ft beer, you know, and l ke understanding the different h ps and where it came from. nd coffee is such an integral p rt of our society, we should rea ly ask questions of so where id this come from? What is he difference, you know, betw en the the Ethiopian coffee, he Rwandan coffee, the Guatema an coffee? But how is it sourc d, you kn

Mike Nitardy:

Right.

Sara Drabik:

There are many different labels, obviously, you can get the fair trade, you can get direct trade, you can get organic, you can get shade, you know, grown. And all of those can get a little complicated. And some of the certifications involved in that. It, you know, it means that not everyone who actually qualifies is getting the certification because you have to pay however much money for someone to do the certification.

Mike Nitardy:

No, exactly right. Yeah, there's..

Sara Drabik:

You know...

Mike Nitardy:

Like in auditing and all walks of life, right?

Sara Drabik:

Exactly.

Mike Nitardy:

You've got to pay somebody to say that you've done it.

Sara Drabik:

Yeah, and so it's like, well, that's not organic. It's like, Well, actually, it is I just can't afford to get the organic certification.

Mike Nitardy:

Right, right.

Sara Drabik:

And that goes a lot for some of the coffee stuff, too. So, you know, obviously, the label is the first place you can look but talk to your local provider. And I think this is why if you're a real coffee person, you probably have a coffee shop that you go to. Ask them, "where do you get your coffee?" You know, like, "how d you roast it?" "How do you sou ce it?" There are so many wonde ful coffee shops in Cincinnati, hat do just that. Coffee Emporiu is the one that has the di ect relationship with Guatemala. But Caraballo in Newport has di ect relations with Nicara ua. There's a lot of them, rig t? And if you go in and you ask usually they love to tell you

Mike Nitardy:

Right, Oh, yes. about it.

Sara Drabik:

You know, because they're excited. They're passionate. They're passionate about their coffee. And even Starbucks, people say like, well, Starbucks, that's evil, right? Because it's a big corporation. They actually do a nice job of sourcing their coffee and paying fair market value. And in fact, I learned through, you know, my different interviews that many years ago when markets tanked and a lot of farmers were like, "why would I grow coffee? I'm not going to make enough money back", you know, from doing this Starbucks came in and pre bought the next three years...

Mike Nitardy:

Wow!

Sara Drabik:

...at a higher-than-market price, because they knew if they let these farmers go under, they weren't going to get good coffee. Right?

Mike Nitardy:

Right. Right.

Sara Drabik:

Like if we if we let that happen, will we still have coffee? Sure.

Mike Nitardy:

But it's not going to be...

Sara Drabik:

It's not going to be the the really good coffee. It's not going to be the handpicked, the Arabica, it's going to be the stuff grown in giant fields and, you know, mass produced, manufactured. A lot of the coffees -- I feel bad saying country's names because I'm not dissing the entirety of the coffee from this country -- but a lot of coffee from Vietnam and Brazil is sourced and grown this way.

Mike Nitardy:

Oh, really?

Sara Drabik:

Not all this is why you need to always like, look, you know, and ask questions about it. And when you find that coffee that you like, and that, you know, go, you know, I do want to support this. You gotta know it's going to cost a little more than you probably want to spend.

Mike Nitardy:

Mmm hmm.

Sara Drabik:

But that is because there are they say there's at least 18 different hands that touch your coffee between seed to cup, and that's 18 different people and families and communities. Because there's so many steps involved. I had no idea until I went down and saw it. I was just like, oh, I've never even seen a coffee tree, let alone everything that goes into growing it, picking it, drying it, you know, washing it, pulping it, roasting it, the transport of it. Like there's so many different things.

Mike Nitardy:

This is awesome.

Sara Drabik:

And so..

Mike Nitardy:

This is awesome.

Sara Drabik:

It gets a little complicated at times, but a good cup of coffee is a good cup of coffee, but I just want the you know, listeners viewers of the documentary when it's done to, to know that there's it's an art, yes, and you really should appreciate it. And try not to take it for granted. Because if we do, it will be gone.

Mike Nitardy:

No doubt. And I'm sold. You've sold me completely sitting here. Yes, I cannot wait to see the documentary. And I am a coffee lover. And so this has been very convicting to me to understand more about what I'm drinking. And to make sure I'm supporting all the right places, because you're exactly right. The whole revelation to me, that 18 different hands, or in a way, of touchpoints before it gets to my table -- that is fascinating. And you're exactly right, that represents individuals, families, communities. That...

Sara Drabik:

Yeah, it's and in this documentary, you'll get to actually see them and hear from them.

Mike Nitardy:

That's great.

Sara Drabik:

And it's great when you see workers that also believe in what it is that they're doing and love doing it. Yes!

Mike Nitardy:

And that's that's something that I think we should support... No doubt.

Sara Drabik:

..you know.

Mike Nitardy:

Yeah. So what can our listeners do if they wanted to support your work or learn more about your work before the documentary comes out?

Sara Drabik:

Well, that's a very good question. You can send checks to... I'm just kid ding.

Mike Nitardy:

[laughter]

Sara Drabik:

I'm kidding. No, I would say you know go out to your local coffee you know suppliers, you know I don't want to feel like I'm doing product placement here like pushing any one place, but you know Coffee Emporium does a lot of you know kind of educational things as Carabella that you can learn more about it...

Mike Nitardy:

Mmm hmm.

Sara Drabik:

...about the coffee and just kind of support, again know that it is going to cost a little bit more money, but know that you're not just buying the coffee, you're supporting the people that are growing it and you're supporting that way of life for growing it.

Mike Nitardy:

Mmm hmm.

Sara Drabik:

Because a lot of these farms too that are working with, you know, Coffee Emporium and Carabello, they treat their workers well. You know, they provide for their families, they make sure their children get schooling. That is not the norm, you know, in most coffee fields, I've gotten to visit the smaller farms that are doing it right and then I've also visited the larger farms. They're not mistreating their workers, you know, it's not terrible, but it's a very, very different vibe. It's a very different feel. It's a factory.

Mike Nitardy:

Right.

Sara Drabik:

You know. It's a..

Mike Nitardy:

Right.

Sara Drabik:

...mass produced job. And if we want to support more of the latter, we need to do that.

Mike Nitardy:

So we talked a little bit about how you got involved with the IWCA. But let's back up a little bit and just talk about how you got involved in filmmaking. What's what's the story there?

Sara Drabik:

Oh, wow, well, I got my undergraduate, a BFA from Ithaca College, in film, but at the time, I was more focused on narrative.

Mike Nitardy:

Mmm hmm.

Sara Drabik:

You know, I was I was kind of like the, you know, average, you know, student. I was like, I'm gonna go to Hollywood...

Mike Nitardy:

Right, right. Yeah.

Sara Drabik:

...and I'm gonna go make movies, it's gonna be great. Well actually did go out to Hollywood. And I realized, I don't like Hollywood that much.

Mike Nitardy:

[laughter]

Sara Drabik:

It wasn't really, it wasn't really for me. And I'll try to make this a long story short, I ended up after I graduated, I spent a year in Thailand, just living over there. And like teaching English. It had nothing to do with filmmaking, but in talking to people -- because this, this was pre-cellphones, right? We didn't have really nice cameras. And so my camera was a 35 millimeter. I took pictures, but ...

Mike Nitardy:

Uh huh.

Sara Drabik:

...everyone's like, "did you shoot a film over there?" I'm like, No, I couldn't have shot a film and you know, 2000 over there.

Mike Nitardy:

Right, right, right.

Sara Drabik:

Like it wasn't really accessible to me. However, talking to people, and just learning all these different stories.

Mike Nitardy:

Mmm hmm.

Sara Drabik:

And learning where they came from, I just kind of really became fascinated in in that in the fact that we know more about, you know, most celebrities or whatnot than we do our neighbors.

Mike Nitardy:

Mmm hmm.

Sara Drabik:

And I started to find out that I think truth is much more fascinating and weird and interesting than the fiction.

Mike Nitardy:

No doubt.

Sara Drabik:

At least any fiction that I could write. Like, I'm not, other people are really good at

Mike Nitardy:

No doubt. it. That's not my forte. So I like to, to find those stories and kind of pull them out on other people. So I got into documentary from there. And then I ended up getting my graduate degree many years later. Like I worked locally, I did a lot with nonprofits, I really liked helping people. And then I ended up coming back to NKU to get my graduate degree, because they started a graduate communication program. And so I went into the program, was really fascinated in learning everything about COM theory and COM studies that I really didn't do in my BFA program. But I said, well, but I'm kind of a filmmaker, you know, rather than doing your traditional, like thesis paper, can I make a film and they were super open. They were like, we want you to succeed, you know, so you do what you do. And they said, "as long as we don't have to help, cuz we don't know how to make films." And I was like, I'm good, I'm good. And so they really let me tailor my education a bit to be able to use filmmaking in a lot of my classes. And so then my thesis was an actual documentary project that I worked on. That is amazing.

Sara Drabik:

Yeah. And it was great. And from there, I never really looked back as far as you know, making documentary films. And I kind of almost immediately, luckily, got involved with NKU as a professor after I got my graduate degree. And they've again, been very supportive when I say, Hey, I think I want to take students to Guatemala, you know, and they're like, "Where? What?" But... ...they say, tell me more about it. And we, you

Mike Nitardy:

[laughter] know, we work through it, and they're very open to what it is I do, and they trust me, and I trust the people I work with in these different countries. And so I've been able to incorporate my love of teaching, because, you know, I discovered -- in t That is awesome. at large area I glossed over in between there -- I iscovered that I really love eaching. I love working with oung people. And so I got to arry that with my love of torytelling, documentary torytelling.

Sara Drabik:

Yeah. And I've been able to bring students all over the world. And they've worked with me on project I've worked on their projects with them. And it's just been it's been great.

Mike Nitardy:

That is fantastic. I want to thank you so much for joining us in the Informatics Cafe today. We've learned so much about women in coffee and about the documentary that you're creating right now and we cannot wait to see it and hopefully we can have you back once it's out.

Sara Drabik:

Yes, everyone says "oh I can't wait to see it" and I say "me neither!"

Mike Nitardy:

[laughter]

Sara Drabik:

Can't wait to see how I put together. Well, thank you so much. This has been fun.

Mike Nitardy:

You better believe it. Thanks for coming. Informatics Cafe is a production of Informatics+, the outreach arm of Northern Kentucky University's College of Informatics. Hosted by Mike Nitardy. Produced by Chris Brewer. Music and engineering by Aaron Zlatkin. Recorded at the Informatics audio studio in Griffin Hall.