A TV Show Grows in Sierra Leone
Vickie Remoe '06 is the creator and star of her own television show, which covers sports, dating, culture, fashion and food, as well as hot-button topics such as birth control. The Vickie Remoe Show mixes man-on-the-street interviews, on-location travel segments, on-set segments taped in front of live audiences (like last year's Valentine's Day dating game show) and experiential service pieces (such as her Katie Couric-style televised implantation of a contraceptive device). You can't, however, catch the show on your local network unless you live in Sierra Leone.
Remoe, a political science major and Sierra Leone native, initially fled her homeland with her family in 1994, during its civil war, and returned to the country in 2007 determined to help rebuild it. She left a promising job at the HIV/AIDS Institute at the New York State Department of Health for the challenge of returning to a war-ravaged nation and uncertain employment.“What I was doing in the States was great,” she says.“But I felt like whatever I was doing there was not as signifi- cant as what I would come back to do in Sierra Leone.”
The Vickie Remoe Show grew out of a blog Remoe started while at Haverford. She created her site as a way to share pictures from a 2005 Center for Peace and Global Citizenship-sponsored trip to Sierra Leone, but it eventually turned into a hub of conversation for Sierra Leoneans living abroad. Since so few people in Sierra Leone have access to the Internet, though, Remoe turned her attention to television as a way to communicate.“If there was one thing I took away from my American experience it's the power of television,” she says.“Even though I wasn't at the March on Washington, I've watched it on television so many times that whenever someone talks of the â€˜I Have a Dream' speech, I can see that image in my mind. The images of American history are in my head because of television.”
Remoe credits Haverford with more than just sponsoring her first return trip to Sierra Leone. The school's honor code is a constant source of inspiration.“When you go to a school like Haverford and you have un-proctored exams, it conditions you to always want to do the right thing, even when nobody is watching,” she says.“That's helped me a lot in Sierra Leone, because there have been many times when I feel like, with the show and with my day-to-day life, if I took the shortcut, I'd get there, but I would have compromised who I am as a person.”
In its two-year run, The Vickie Remoe Show has grown tremendously. Though Remoe still does much of the grunt work herself, juggling everything from on-air hosting duties to pounding the pavement to sell sponsorship, she now has a two-person support staff to help with editing and camerawork. She learned TV production skills on the fly. (In early episodes, she says,“somebody would be speaking and only their hands would be in the shot.”) Now Remoe even gets recognized as a local celebrity.“I can't go anywhere without being stopped in the street,” she says.
As if she wasn't busy enough, Remoe is also working on applications for graduate school. She wants to study journalism so she can hone her storytelling skills and teach the international community about Sierra Leone, beyond its images of blood diamonds and child soldiers.“I want to give a 360-degree perspective of what it means to be an African person,” says Remoe.