Albert Lawundeh, TSE photographer

Monday, January 18, 2010

Through Students's Eyes

When I traveled to Bo to teach Summer School last summer, I was given the opportunity to invite six of the CRC students to participate in a grant my new boss was writing connected to a project he was a part of in Cleveland.  The project is called Through Students' Eyes, and seeks to connect high school and middle school students in various parts of the country in an effort to have them document through photographs and writing what education means to them.  The inclusion of six CRC kids meant that we would be able to connect kids in Cleveland, VA and Sierra Leone through a website so that they could share their images and writing with one another.  We're curious what similarities and differences we find between the educational experiences of kids in inner city Cleveland, upper middle class Fairfax county, and West Africa.

Through the grant, I was able to travel to Bo in July with six point-and-shoot digital cameras.  Only four made the journey (theft is a common problem en route to Bo, and two of our cameras disappeared from our luggage between Heathrow and Freetown), but my six intrepid photographers just shared the equipment.  A fellow missionary (Brian) and I followed the kids around while they snapped pictures for several hours during the course of our time there, and then the kids wrote about their two favorite images.  The kids at the CRC often get a chance to play with the cameras of missionaries who travel there, but they don't have as much access to this kind of technology as their American peers.  The images they took are amazing, especially when you consider that they have more limited contact with cameras than kids in America:

Abu-Bakarr Jalloh, TSE photographer

Albert Lawundeh, TSE photographer

Alfreda Humper, TSE photographer

Joseph Bomorie, TSE photographer

Rosa Saffa, TSE Photographer

Suma Thamu, TSE photographer

Part of the grant is that the kids get to keep the cameras.  They'll get a small stipend as well, which will go into their respective college/post-secondary funds.  Their work will also be published - in some format chosen by them, but also as a part of an exhibit where their photography and writing will be displayed for the public.  They'll each get to select one image to be professionally printed and framed for display.  The first exhibit will take place April 10 -11 at the historic Old Stone Church in Cleveland, OH.  My kids won't be able to make the trip, but I'm hoping to go in their place, and to videotape the presentation of their first public exhibit.

What an amazing opportunity for these kids to get published in a real and public way, and for people with no idea what life is like on the other side of the world to see it through their eyes!  Thanks again, Kristien - for allowing me to be a part of this!

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