Vicky Collins Online

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The Chinese Scam I Almost Fell For

It’s amazing the lengths people will go to to rip others off.  I recently was contacted by a Mr. Dehua from Henan Yu Xin International Co. Ltd. in Zhengzhou, China.  He emailed to say that his company was making a 20 episode series of 25 minute documentaries in HD for television broadcast.  The intention was to enlighten the Chinese audience about America’s history, economy, culture and tourism.  At first I was a bit skeptical.  How did he find me?  Was it because I did a documentary length piece on Chinese influence in the Caribbean for Dan Rather Reports?  Was it because I spent three months in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics?  Did I impress someone along the way who referred me?  I emailed him back.  He followed up with the project information.  It was in detail and he clearly understood the logistics of production.  He also informed me that they would pay $50,000 to $60,000 US per episode.  The project was a dream come true with a budget that would allow us to produce excellent television.  It kept me up at night thinking of ideas that I would bring to the Chinese and people I would collaborate with.  I worked out a production schedule and sent him off my ideas.  He said “I am so happy that we have a so good beginning.”  Today as I was looking for more information I came across this warning from a production company in Munich, Germany.

http://www.filmingholidays.com/2012/07/18/beware-b2b-scam-from-china/

Thanks to the internet and the experience of the production company in Munich I was saved from going any further down this scheming road.  I am now posting this as a cautionary tale to warn fellow producers and production companies.  The scam which first swept through Germany and Italy and other European countries has now reached American shores.  I guess if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit Teletrends Television Production and Development.

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BBC: The Joy of Stats

What a clever way to make complicated and essential statistics user friendly. The BBC hit it out of the park with this program. For anyone interested in global poverty and the inequities between the haves and the have nots, Hans Rosling’s demonstration is must see TV.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Photography: Stepping Up My Game

Just bought a Nikon D7000 camera and Nikkor 18-200 mm 1:3.5-5.6 GII lens. Have set a goal to teach myself to shoot and edit video in the year ahead. My television colleagues are trying to talk me into Final Cut Pro. Also looking into continuing education at the Santa Fe Photography Workshops. Need to enhance the skill set. Time to step up as a photographer and journalist. Nervous and excited. I posted my current portfolio on Flickr. Onward and Upward!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vickycollins/sets/72157625467469718/

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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The Camel and the Cell Phone

Andres from Switzerland, his girlfriend, Paola from Brazil and I were riding on camels in the Thar Desert outside of the western Indian town of Jaisalmer. We were in a spot as remote as I’ve ever been, 21 hours by train from Delhi, just 60 kilometers from the border with Pakistan. It’s a flat, arid locale, punctuated by sand dunes and populated by only villagers, camel wallas and shepherds with their flocks of sheep and goats. To me it was a place that time forgot, more like the Middle East than India. It probably hasn’t changed much at all in a thousand years. I felt like a silk or spice trader heading west into the desert. I was deep into my reverie on a camel named Michael when suddenly my thoughts were interrupted by the Nokia ringtone. Dadadadadadadadadadadadada. It seemed our guide, Ali, was a very popular man. For the entire camel safari his cell phone rang. It rang on the sand dunes, it rang under the tree where we stopped to have our vegetables and chapati lunch, it rang at sundown while we were drinking our beer. It rang after we went to bed under the stars and it was the first sound I heard at sunrise. The Nokia ringtone, piercing the tranquility of the desert.

 

Ali and his cell phone

 

The Lonely Planet guide book said the power generating wind turbines that have sprouted around Jaisalmer were altering the historic and mystical qualities of the area, that they made it harder to transport yourself to another time and place. But I barely noticed them. I found it was Ali’s cell phone that kept me coming back to now. I had a similar experience while working at the Olympics in Beijing. Dean, Jim and I took a day trip to hike the Great Wall of China. We climbed in Hebei Province, in Inner Mongolia, about two and a half hours outside of Beijing. We took a 10 kilometer trek from Jinshanling to Sumatai. Up and down stairsteps in a place far out of the way. Yet there was cell service. No place this remote would be served by AT&T in the U.S.A. My colleague, Jim, who probably shouldn’t have been on the adventure because he was so busy with his Olympic assignment as the head technical supervisor of the Bird’s Nest Stadium, spent the entire trip talking on his cell phone. I have no idea how he managed to catch his breath as he scrambled up and down the mountainside. It was truly the most difficult physical challenge of my life, yet he yakked the whole way on his mobile.

We have gotten to a place where we are so interconnected that you can no longer escape, even in some of the most remote spots on earth. While in India I have stayed in touch with friends by Skype, email and Facebook. I tuned in to an computer chat on http://msnbc.msn.com that my friend, Kerry Sanders, a correspondent for NBC News, was holding as he covered the rescue of the miners from Chile. There was really no update from family, friends and colleagues that was inaccessible to me from a half a world away. And even though I am grateful for all the technology and connectedness at my fingertips, and understand the need of the camel walla to stay in touch with his people when he travels through the desert too, I still wish the only sounds that day were my thoughts, the wind and the camels, and not Ali’s incessant Nokia ringtone.

For more on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Delhi’s Commonwealth Games Face

When I came to Delhi in 2008 I remember the palpable culture shock.  It was overwhelming even for a rather intrepid traveler.  I had been in Beijing and Uganda earlier in the year so I thought I would be prepared for anything, but nothing I had ever experienced set me up for India.  On the roadway from the airport cows roamed the street.  The traffic was indescribable and everyone honked their horns. There were thousands of stray dogs loafing in the sun, then at night they would roam in hungry packs and turn aggressive.  Squatters camped along the roadways and children would race up to your car when you were stopped at intersections to beg or perform little tricks in hopes of a handout.  It took me about 24 hours to adjust and I still am ashamed of my ugly American moment when I couldn’t get the hot water to work.

Two years later, I see a different city.  For all the international ridicule Delhi suffered as it ramped up to the Commonwealth Games, the Indian capitol definitely has on its game face now.  The cows and dogs have been relocated for the time being to shelters.  There are few squatters and I haven’t seen one beggar yet.  Traffic is moving well and things are clean and tidy.  It remains to be seen what it will be like in three months when the international spotlight turns away (I still wonder how Beijing transformed once the Olympics were over.)  Of course Delhi will be left with the emotional and financial hangover these huge international sporting events leave behind, but for the moment, it is a new day in Delhi.  The only thing that hasn’t changed is the warmth of the people.  That is the same as it was in 2008.  Warm smiles and namastes.  Great hospitality to cure the worst case of culture shock.

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Olympics: Canada Style

I walked out of my hotel room in Vancouver this morning to see a flock of seagulls squacking their heads off.  That’s the most noise I’ve heard since I arrived in Canada.  Toto, we’re not in Beijing anymore.  In 2008, with the Olympic Games a week and a half away, the city was buzzing with anticipation and chaotic with last minute preparations.  Thousands of people were planting flowers, cleaning up and security was fierce.  Here in Vancouver it is so calm and low key you hardly know it will soon be the center of the universe.  There are some banners, new buildings and infrastructure improvements but you don’t sense that Canada’s place in the world hangs on these games.  I’ve been asking around and people tell me that’s just how it is in British Columbia.  People are pretty relaxed and take things in stride.  Even the security is laid back.  Police greet you with friendly smiles.  Maybe it’s because there aren’t that many media, athletes or guests here yet, or maybe folks are being polite and deferential to those who felt the money could be better spent.  Or maybe it’s just that the only thing Canadians get really worked up about is sport.  As one young woman told me, “I’ll get excited for the men’s hockey.”

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Travelling China’s Silk Road

Wonderful story from CBS News about entrepreneurship along the Silk Road in China.  Chinese policy towards America may not be changing much but its people embrace our capitalism and long to compete with us.  The Silk Road is open for business! 

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5701582n

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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Vacation in Afghanistan

One year ago I was in Beijing, China for a three month gig working at the Olympics.  In November 2008 I headed to Kampala, Uganda again to do more television production work for BeadforLife (http://beadforlife.org) then immediately after a quick trip to Delhi, India for a wedding.  No exotic destinations this summer but I’m hungry for an overseas trip.  I’m already thinking about what to do for our 25th wedding anniversary in 2010.  Saw this article about vacationing in Afghanistan.  The land mines will be cleared out by October.  Bamiyan seems like the place for an intrepid traveler to be. 

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31744727/ns/travel-active/

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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How People Live

During April I’ve had a photo exhibit running in Studio 13 Gallery in Denver’s Santa Fe Arts District.  It’s called “How People Live” and is a collection of photographs from the streets and slums around the world that illuminate the diversity of people and the condition of the poor.  Photos were taken in Uganda, China, Thailand, India, Brazil, Mexico, and various places in America.  Most of the photos were gathered while I was on television production assignments.  “How People Live” was a fundraiser for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless and I want to thank all the people who supported this effort.  I’ve posted the photos to Facebook and Flickr and wanted to share them with a broader audience.  Hope you find them compelling and enlightening. 

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1106444740&ref=profile

http://www.flickr.com/photos/vickycollins

For more information about Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com.


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The Truth About China

The truth, my friend Song and I agreed, is somewhere in between.  When people see things from completely different points of view, more than likely the reality lies in the middle.  Song and I were having lunch towards the end of the Olympics in the International Broadcast Centre cafeteria and I asked her what she planned to do after the games ended.  She said she’d like to return to Europe and travel around for a while.  Maybe visit Serbia and Montenegro this time.

 

     “You should come to America?”

     “Oh no, not America.”

     “Why not?”

     “I’m scared.”

 

Turns out since Song was a small girl she was told negative things about America that cloud her view to this day.  I explained that the United States was not what she imagined, that it is diverse and she would be safe and welcomed warmly by Americans.  Song has been out of China before.  She received her Masters Degree in England and mentioned that as she got acquainted with her new classmates she was surprised that Westerners were not as she had been led to believe growing up.  She found it all quite confusing and wondered if she had somehow been misled.  I explained that if she visited America her experience would probably be very similar to that.    

 

In the end China was not how I imagined it would be.  It is a fascinating, welcoming land with friendly, mostly content people.  They work hard and enjoy life.  Most in Beijing share in China’s prosperity and get along fine with the government.  Many think the laws of the country are sensible.  Confucious teaches obedience and it is embraced by the Chinese people.  I was even surprised to know that some young Chinese are not willing to judge their leaders and recent history.  It’s not because they are afraid but because they believe it is too new for them to have the perspective that comes with time.

 

During the closing ceremony as the IOC’s Jacques Rogge complimented China on “exceptional games” he said, “through these Games, the world learned more about China, and China learned more about the world.”  Hopefully that will be the enduring legacy of this time in Chinese history.  The door will open a bit wider. 

 

Now as I sit home and reflect on the adventure I had I find myself missing China very much.  I miss the yin and yang of the old China and new China.  I miss evenings hanging out on the rooftops in the hutongs drinking Tsingtao beer with Chinese and Western friends.  I miss walking down busy Beijing boulevards and seeing shops and lanterns and so many people coming and going on foot and bicycles.  I miss tai chi in Behai Park.  But mostly I miss Jack and Eir and Ming and Song and Sophie and Lynn and Matt and all the laughs.  I especially miss the immersion into another culture and the opportunity to really see a country through the eyes of someone who lives there.  One learns that despite what they’ve heard, the truth is somewhere in between.

 

For more information on Vicky Collins visit http://teletrendstv.com