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Breaking Ground

The YouTube series “Gundo Groundbreakers,” created and produced by ESHS student Samera Eusufzai and ESHS alumnus Lily Goldman, provides an honest and canded view of life as a student of color in El Segundo.

By Maureen Kingsley

Screen capture of Episode 3 of Gundo Groundbreakers. Top left, Samera Eusufzai; top right, Lily Goldman; below, guest Sarah Wheaton.

In the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis in late May of this year, many of us throughout the nation and around the world found ourselves feeling disturbed, angry, and motivated to act. Here in El Segundo, the grassroots group El Segundo for Black Lives quickly took shape, welcoming members, volunteers, and supporters of all ages and walks of life from the community, including young adults and high school students.

Screen capture of a title card for Episode 4 of Gundo Groundbreakers, a YouTube show created and produced by Samera Eusufzai and Lily Goldman.

Two of those younger members, Samera Eusufzai, a current Junior at El Segundo High School, and Lily Goldman, an electrical-engineering student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and 2018 graduate of El Segundo High School, connected via El Segundo for Black Lives in June and are now the producers of several episodes of Gundo Groundbreakers, their YouTube show that shares the personal stories and experiences of young individuals of color at El Segundo High School.

“June fourteenth is when Lily and I spoke for the first time about producing this series,” explains Samera of the concept that gelled quickly and cooperatively. The two young women hit it off, shared a vision, and within 11 days found their first guest (Jalah Perry), recorded an interview, and produced the first Gundo Groundbreakers episode.

“Samera reaches out to guests,” says Lily of the division of labor, “and we work together to write up the interview questions. After we film an interview, Samera and I talk about what portions to keep and what to cut, and I do the video editing and captioning.” The pair also get feedback from El Segundo for Black Lives, which shares the finished products via its YouTube and social-media channels.

The editing process, for which Lily uses Adobe Premiere, and the creation of the subtitles, takes hours and hours to complete, but Lily enjoys the work and believes it is important. “While I’m editing it I learn so much,” she says. “I’m grateful the guests are sharing their stories with us. The majority of El Segundo High School is white,” she continues. “I’m learning about things others have experienced that I haven’t.”

“Gundo Groundbreakers is intended for everyone,” says Samera of the series. By candidly interviewing students of color about their school experiences, she hopes those watching will recognize that “we all share the same goal to live happy and safe lives.” Samera adds that, to date (mid August), the four guests who have shared their stories for Gundo Groundbreakers have been “open and vulnerable, kind and generous.” She hopes those watching might take away from the interviews the importance of “minding one’s words and being respectful to others.”

The partnership that exists between Samera and Lily is communicative, cooperative, and passionate, Lily says. The two are planning to maintain the series and produce more episodes as their school schedules allow.

Gundo Groundbreakers is on YouTube at the El Segundo for Black Lives channel.

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