Thanks to Virginia Tech faculty members Annie Hesp and John Boyer, “The Way” was released early in Blacksburg and played in front of a packed house in Burruss Hall last September.
Hesp, an instructor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, personally lobbied Martin Sheen and Emilo Estevez at a conference back in February of 2011. The movie and its famous star and writer travelled to Blacksburg for a screening, capping an intense campaign on Facebook and a YouTube clip posted by Boyer, an instructor in the Department of Geography.
Hesp has biked the El Camino twice. She has also made the pilgrimage twice on foot, accompanied both times by students from the University of Michigan where she was a doctoral student at the time. Hesp’s dissertation focused on the concept of community along the Camino. She was conducting her research at the same time Estevez was writing the movie. Ironically, they were examining many of the same resources at the same time.
In an interview with George Greenia, a professor at the College of William and Mary who organized the “Workshop on Pilgrimage Studies” that Hesp attended in February, Sheen said, “When you get to the core of who you really are, you understand that you’re a part of this whole thing; we’re all on pilgrimage, all the time.”