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To Grow a Tree Journal V: Narrowing Down on Documentary Topic – Emmanuel Johnson


At the moment, it has solidly been established that I want to explore the topic of happiness, whilst focusing on affect, and looking into the feeling of mutuality experienced by International students within small groups of collective interests. Nonetheless, I am struggling to pinpoint a narrow topic for the documentary that I intend to produce, which I hope captures the emotions I feel; as a member of the populace of international students.

My struggle is very much focused on the fact that, I have feelings and emotions which embody the focus of what I aim to produce. Every day as I go out and interact with international students, I experience these affects; very strong feelings of ‘togetherness’ which bind international students together and enable us function as a unit. However, I am unable to convert them into something denotable, which can be used in developing a message or narrative of some sort, needed for the picture I intend to capture in this project.

My strategy for tackling this obstacle thus far has been research. I have been reading into, and exploring the theory of ‘affect’, with hopes of gaining a better understanding of it, which I believe would make my journey a little less burdensome. Nonetheless, this is yet to provide me with the enlightenment that I seek.

My ‘search of meaning’ is exposing me to extensive frameworks of feelings; which are now generated during social encounters with international students from countries and cultures foreign to mine.

The so called ‘feeling of mutuality’ which I have touched on in previous posts is becoming manifest to me, even whilst socialising and ‘chilling’ with individuals from a different country (Indonesia), who speak Bahasa Indonesia which I do not understand. Nevertheless, I am able to experience similar feelings of togetherness as them, whilst under the same umbrella of vibrations created by the affective atmosphere of trust and intimacy built by these foreigners. This has me arriving at an epiphany and thinking to myself ‘wait a minute! You mean to tell me that, the feeling of mutuality isn’t experienced solely within national communities, but back and forth with international and vice-versa?’.

This highlights infinite potential experiences which other international students might have faced; crucial to my research but new to me still.

This complex experience leaves me with multiple questions, such as:

  • What does that experience really mean?
  • How is that affective experience even created?
  • Why do I share the same emotional attachment as them, although I do not understand the language that they speak, or their mannerisms and way of life?
  • Do other international students connect to umbrellas of vibration, generated by people from countries foreign to them?

I believe that, within these questions, I shall find solutions to many of the puzzles I have battled with, whilst deciding on my documentary topic. I also imagine that my findings shall heavily construct the focus and manner of approach I shall undertake henceforth, during this journey. Nevertheless, this is bound to be a life-changing and transformative experience, as I discover new knowledge in every text I type, emotion I feel, and encounter I experience.

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