Bearing Witness

A doctor walks through a warzone carrying an injured baby


With a love for travel, languages, history and politics, Kim Polo ’98 (BA) used her time as a student at the University of San Diego to dive even deeper into those personal interests.

  “I think senior year was probably my favorite year. I loved every class I had,” she recalls. “I would have a genocide class and then I would have a history of the Vietnam War class and then Dr. Aquino’s religion class. I loved all of them.”

Today, those passions have been some of the building blocks to her most recent accomplishment: becoming an award-winning documentarian.

“I really do feel like all my interests that solidified in college stayed with me and that it’s all led me to this point. I always stayed interested in international relations and religion, and that’s really what the documentary’s about — it all ties in,” says Polo, who was a theology and religious studies and international relations double major.

Her documentary, Don’t Forget Them, is a 51-minute film that follows a doctor for a week as he travels to refugee camps near Duhok, Kurdistan to provide medical relief.

Polo and her team share the refugees’ stories, with the ultimate goal of spreading awareness and raising money to help these families. “I think sometimes people hear about it but they don’t really know. The film shows some of the difficult parts but also lets you relate to the people you meet,” she says.

The documentary has been selected for nearly two dozen film festivals, winning Best Documentary at the European Cinematography Awards, among other honors. It’s an incredible achievement, considering that the film is her first documentary.

Polo’s interest in photography began as she documented her travels and grew as she took photos of her family. She saw each shot as an attempt to get better at her craft.

“I did it very nonconventionally. I just really, really wanted to do it anyway I could. I just kept working on it, working on it and working on it,” she says.

Don’t Forget Them is an example of what hard work, passion and a desire to give back can do to create an impact.

“I thought the message was the film. I think it’s become even bigger than that. I think it really shows that when people really work hard together, a lot can get done.” — Elena Gomez

Learn more at the film’s Twitter page.

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