You Follow: A Search For One's Past
Sharmila Ray, 90 minutes, USA, 2015
In 2009, Nisha Grayson packed her bags with four of her closest friends and set out on a journey from the home she had known for 28 years in Sacramento CA, off to her birthplace in Goa, India it was a quest for answers, family and true identity. YOU FOLLOW chronicles the experiences of an adoptee with a mind full of questions and heart full of determination. When steps in the right direction lead to forks in the road, when loyalty and commitment come from unlikely strangers, Nisha faces an emotional series of unexpected challenges and tests of her character. The underlying questions create a heartfelt saga that brings Nisha and friends back and forth from India to the United States just to find out: Who is Nisha’s birth mother and will she even meet her? With her perils come pain; with her progress comes hope. 28 years after her adoption, this 39month journey leads Nisha to a deep introspective through her inspiring commitment to pursuing truth, and the adventure that comes along with it. In its essence, YOU FOLLOW is a compelling story about resilience,family and identity.
More about the film at: http://youfollowthefilm.com/index
In 2003, Sharmila Ray graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a bachelors degree in Visual Arts Media / Film and Video. After graduation she worked as a public relations director and curator for local San Diego galleries. In 2006 a move to L.A. to work as a visual merchandiser, sparked her to pursue a career in film. By 2009, she began working on a personal documentary film project called: YOU FOLLOW: A Search for One's Past. Sharmila has enjoyed working on an eclectic mix of jobs ranging from directing, production design, and producing within the mediums of music videos, commercials and short films. Her commercial work includes projects with Seventeen magazine, Doritos, and Don Diablo just to name a few. http://saywhatfoo.com/
Moderator and Panelists:
Stephanie Kripa CooperLewter, Ph.D. Lost Sarees CoFounder & Panelist
IndianAmerican social worker, author and life coach, Dr. Stephanie Kripa CooperLewter has twenty years experience in the nonprofit, social service, health, education and philanthropicsector. Throughout her career, she has focused on child welfare issues while strengthening individuals, families and communities. Previously President/CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Columbia, her current philanthropic work supports families experiencing poverty, immigrant families, child welfare and kinship care. Adopted from India to the United States, she speaks on adoption for a range of audiences from national adoption conferences to heritage camps and retreats. She received her Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina as a Council of Social Work Education Minority Fellow and completed her Masters of Social Work from the University of Minnesota as a TitleIV E Child Welfare Scholar. Her dissertation explored the identity journeys of women adopted transnationally as children in their quest for authenticity and connection. She is cofounder of Lost Sarees, an organization uniting Indian adoptees and building bridges to the South Asian community. She is also a graduate of theCoaching and Positive Psychology Institute's Certified Personal Executive Coach Program grounded in resilience and positive psychology. Her coaching practice focuses on inspiring women to live authentically aligned with their life’s purpose.
Anjulie Ganti, MSW, MPH Moderator
Born in California and raised Bellevue, WA, Anjulie is a social work educator, former Bharatanatyam dancer and massage therapist and agitator for change. Anjulie’s activism began in HIV AIDS education and expanded to reproductive justice and youth mentoring and leadership development. In Chennai, India, she developed a psychosocial support group curriculum for Mother’s Living with HIV which is still in use today. In 2010, Anjulie directed Yoni Ki Baat for Tasveer’s Aaina Festival. And she has been an active volunteer as a board member, for numerous reproductive justice organizations, and schools. Currently, she directs a training program for the Indigenous Wellness Research Institute and teaches in the Masters program at University of Washington School of Social. Anjulie lives in Seattle with her husband, Rahul Gupta and their two daughters Arundhati (8) and Ishani (4). She is an avid knitter and crafter and tends to make some kind of trouble, wherever she roams.
Nisha Grayson Producer & Panelist
Indian born adoptee, graduate student, and writer, Nisha Grayson was first adopted from Goa as in infant in 1983. During her childhood, she fantasized and dreamed of her home country and connecting with her birth mother again. It wasn’t until after she graduated from San Diego State University with a Sociology degree that her and her best friends packed their bags and traveled back to India in search for her family roots, heritage, and lost culture. After two trips
over the course of three years, Nisha gained answers and a sense of identity that she will pass onto her future children. Since returning from India and completing the film, Nisha began her academic goals of earning her Master’s Degree and becoming a counselor. She has found support within the adoptees community which has given her validation and the voice to speak out about her truth, challenges and joys of being adopted. In addition to sharing her journey through film, Nisha has recently started an online blog at theadopteediary.com where she expresses herself in hopes to connect with others like her and educate others that are not like her. Nisha finds pleasure in cooking, writing, reading, painting, and connecting with the Universe.
Rebecca Peacock Lost Sarees CoFounder & Panelist
Rebecca was born in 1975 in Kanpur, India. Her first home was Missionaries of Charity orphanage in Kanpur, and then later Missionaries of Charity in Delhi. She was adopted at the age of one by a family in the United States and grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah. She now resides in Seattle Washington with her husband, Dave, and daughter, Trisha. Rebecca has many years of retail, marketing and merchandising experience, most recently at the Seattle Pacific Market Center as a showroom manager and sales representative. Rebecca is passionate about issues affecting women and children. As cofounder of Lost Sarees, she hopes to demonstrate the power of creativity to connect people, communities and cultures. At the end of 2011 Rebecca and Dave travelled to India, where they adopted Trisha from Ashraya Children's Home in Bangalore. The journey marked Rebecca’s first trip to her home country since being adopted as an infant.