The Trek Project is a multi-faceted, multi-media project that examines the ways that people see themselves in a global context. The project was created follows 10 high schools students on the same community service trip to Nicaragua that I completed when I as 17 and documents the journey that occurs when people from the US travel abroad as well as all of the complicated dynamics that surround how people claim global citizenship. The piece takes an analytic lens to the aide tourism industry and the US-relationship with Latin America. The piece involved the creation and implementation of Mapping Workshops in the Spring of 2009 both in public events and also privately with the students that I traveled with. These workshops examined how people see themselves in a global context. Additionally, I have been working on a timeline that contextualizes the concepts that come up in the movie and examines the colonization and re-colonization of Latin America. The project culminates in the creation of El Trompo, the documentary that takes the viewer on a journey from New York City and Philadelphia to Gualacatu, Nicaragua. El Trompo seeks to complicate our notions of macro and micro global systems of oppression and examine both the good and bad ways that people experience aide tourism. Additionally, I have created curriculum for various age groups in both in/out of classroom settings to further engage with the topics brought up in the movie.  


The Trailer:


You can view the entire documentary (25 mins):

Helyx is available to screen the documentary as an interactive mapping workshop.  The following blog serves as documentation of the project process, it was kept from 2009-2010 during the peak of pre-production, production and post production.  

The Fundraiser

Madly Multi-Arts Party to Back Documentary Filmmaker on Saturday, March 14
March 7, 2009, Philadelphia – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
What unites a rapper, a singer/songwriter, three jewelry-makers, a documentary on women in the media, a raffle, a silent auction, and a music video? Stumped? They’re all coming together for an Arts Free-for-All Party to raise money for filmmaker Hannah ‘helyx’ Horwitz’s documentary about American teens in Nicaragua.
All that and more will be happening Saturday, March 14, from 6-9 at Saladworks on the Penn Campus, 3728 Spruce Street, 19104. Lee G the rapper/singer will host and perform, and songwriter Kevin Ricci will sing. Works by artists and jewelry-makers Julia Eckenrode, Lisa Horwitz and Danny Kulp will be offered at silent auction, and Horwitz’ documentary on the impact of media images of women on girls will be shown. Rounding off the eclectic mix will be a raffle of a CD set, and a showing of Sandsnake, a Lee G and Delon music video filmed and edited by Horwitz. In short, the evening offers a madly mixed arts menu making one fun party.
The event is part of a broader fundraising effort to support Horwitz’s trip to Nicaragua this summer with a group of Philadelphia teens who will work with a small community there to build a school. Their trip is part of buildOn, ( an organization that combines after-school service in teens’ home communities here in the states with raising money and sending volunteers to build schools (295 to date) in developing communities around the world. 13 Philadelphia area high schools are working with buildOn ( and a group of students from those programs are headed to Nicaragua this summer. Horwitz’s film will document their work and the impact it will have, not just on the community building a new school, but on the lives of the American teens. Horwitz knows this impact well, as she describes her own buildOn experience in Nicaragua at age 17 as “life-changing.” Part of the money will go to fund a solar-powered battery charger to allow her to film in the remote community which lacks electricity.
There is no cover, but contributions will be joyfully received.
Madly Multi-Arts Party Backing buildOn Film
Saturday, March 14, 6-9
Saladworks on the Penn Campus, 3728 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Contact for more information: Hannah ‘helyx’ Horwitz, 610-539-9359,

Fundraiser Update


The Fundraiser was pretty good. Didn't really have the attendance I would have hoped for but none the less between the actual event and the call for donations before hand I raised about 600$

remember my ultimate goal is 2000$

so 1400$ to go, but 600$ is a great start!

look out for more events to come, in Philly

I am looking to set something up with the A Space, and Cafe Mocha.

Project Description

The Trek Project:

The Trek project is a multi-facited investigation of communities on a local and global level, and US based thought around the construction of our communities. It consists of a preview project (in a yet to be determined medium) and a longer form documentary that will be shot primarily this summer in Philadelphia and Nicaragua.

Trek Preview Project:

Many times well-intentioned westerners go into Latin American countries to “help” the people in them. This summer I will be following an organization that has built hundreds of schools in developing countries to Nicaragua where a group of high school students will be building a school in a small village. Before I go on this trip to complete the longer form documentary I want to do a promotional and investigative preview by examining buildOn, the organization I will be traveling with. The preview project will be an examination of the ways that the organization functions within the US and the perspectives that they translate into their work in developing countries.

The Documentary:

This part of the project is an investigation into communities that will be expressed in the form of a documentary. I will be following a ‘trek for knowledge’, a program out of buildOn, to Nicaragua. The participants on the trek are members of buildOn, a program that requires its participants to do community service in their own areas in addition to fundraising and cultural education. For many students in buildOn, is the chief buildOn experience is a ‘trek for knowledge’. Trek allows students to bring together the 3 pillars of the buildOn experience (community service, global education, and fundraising), by traveling to one of the buildOn countries, living in a community for 2 weeks and constructing a school. My trek experience changed my life and the way that I see my community. I hope to bring that experience together in this documentary about the ways that we build community both at home and abroad.

Perceptions, Mapping

If you flip a standard map of the world over it places the two continents that we are least likely to consider prominent in the positions of power. Africa and South America occupy the positions where our brains are used to seeing europe and north america... this is indicative of structures of power and colonialism that were prevalent when the continents of Africa, Asia, and America were "discovered" and these structures of power have carried through into what we see today when we look at dominant discourses in almost all forms of academia.

I want this project to be about mapping, about mapping our own perceptions of the world and the spaces that we occupy. For the next few months I will be collecting maps, most importantly I will be collecting maps from the high school students going on the trek to Nicaragua and the people that we will meet in Nicaragua. I want everyone to draw maps of their worlds as they see them. I will be able to use these maps as a tool to examine self perception, global perception, and ultimately where we place ourselves in the world...