More than 200 MHS students received a geography lesson and heard some amazing stories during a 90-minute presentation by Swiss-born filmmaker Karin Muller at the Performing Arts Center on Tuesday.
It was the second consecutive year that Muller has spoken to MHS students. She also presented to them last November. Both presentations were set up by MHS social studies teacher Janel Anderson.
"We know how lucky we are to have Karin speak to our students and have her talk about her work,'' Anderson said. "She has some amazing stories.''
Muller films and produces one documentary a year. She spends three months in the country doing the filming and then spends the rest of the year editing it or preparing for her next trip. She just returned in the past week from China.
She has also visited Japan, Peru, Chile, Sudan, Cuba and Vietnam among other countries during her more than 20-year career.
Muller, 46, has filmed, produced and narrated documentaries for PBS, National Geographic and the Discovery Channel.
Muller said she gets asked all the time why she does this and said she had never really answered the question before Tuesday. She admitted her father thinks she is a war or danger junkie.
"Not one of us likes getting shot at or beheaded,'' she said. "We do this in spite of the danger.''
She told the students she has no plans to visit Iraq or countries where genocide is taking place. Instead she prefers to go to places where there is real conflict and no easy answers.
She also has a basic reason for telling stories.
"We owe it to the rest of the world to level the playing field,'' Muller said. "If we don't tell their story, no one will ever know it.''
Her goal for the past 7-8 years has been to challenge young students to help others less fortunate. She believes as the world's only remaining super power that U.S. students are uniquely positioned to fill that role.
"I challenge you to not look down at your iPhones but to look up and ask questions and observe,'' she said. "I need you to be thoughtful, global citizens.''
She has spent more than a decade traveling and documenting the world's great historic highways. Her 4,000-mile trek from Quito to Santiago resulted in an acclaimed international television documentary, "Along the Inca Road" that was on National Geographic Explorer and the National Geographic Channel, aliong with a book published by Adventure Press.
Since first receiving a National Geographic grant in 1998, she has published books, produced documentaries, written articles, taken photos and presented lectures for National Geographic.
She hasn't decided what her next adventure will be but encouraged the students to share with her their ideas. She also told them they are welcome to use footage from her travels to write and produce their own documentaries.
The presentation concluded with a Q&A session.
The Latin American, Caribbean & Iberian Studies Program at UW-Madison provides outreach for K-12 schools through their outreach coordinator Sarah Ripp, who also attended Tuesday's presentation.
Muller's visit to MHS was part of a visit she made to UW-Madison to participate in their Travel Adventure Film Series about her latest film about her travels in Sudan.