27 January 2012
When that thought crossed my mind, it was because I was taking photos of things that are not "print worthy". I mean, why was I taking photographs if I didn't hope to see them hanging on a wall someday? Of course I take photos of things because I want people to hang them on their wall to enjoy. However, I also take them for my students. And my family. And my friends. I take photos of things for other people- usually not myself. I take photos because I want to share what I see with people who may never get the chance to see it. It's kind of like the idea of my photojournalism project... I want to photograph schools so kids can see what schools are like in other countries because they'll probably never get the chance to see them (because, who really goes to see schools when they're traveling? If you can think of someone, please do tell me because I'd like to talk to them!). I take pictures of food and people and details for other people. I have been there. I know what the people, the food, doors, sidewalks, etc look like... so why do I photograph them? For others- that's the answer.
This is something I had been wanting to write about but of course I never got around to it (like the post on France. Hey, the photos are done and most of them are on facebook. Check them out if you want). Today I came across this article and it made me glad I haven't written it yet. And here's why. The photographer whom this article is about talks about his "rebirth" in Venice, California. He is one of those lucky and incredibly talented people who got a start at a young age and has had much success in his life with photography. With an overloaded schedule of commercial shoots, he felt like something was missing. Then he thought of a quote by Helmut Newton:
You should be able to walk out your door and find a picture within two or three miles.
Mr. Alston jokingly added, "Of course, he always picked these great places like Monte Carlo, so he could say that.”
Well, I chose Moldova. It is definitely not Monte Carlo or Venice... and I can definitely gind a good picture within two or three miles. But this is beside the point of what I'm wanting to say. Later down in the article he says:
If you can find joy in walking down the street, and you see a leaf, it makes you happy and you photograph it, that’s a beautiful thing.
Mr. Alston is right. Sure, I take photographs of things I wouldn't normally photograph for my personal use because I have other people in mind. In fact, I would venture to guess that 90% of the images I make are for that reason. Photography, though, makes me happy. Using Alston's example, I can take a picture of a leaf when walking down the street. I may never, ever show anyone else that photo or I may never even look at it again. However, for that split second, hearing the "click" of my shutter close made me happy. And that, my friends, is why I take pictures. It makes me happy.
26 January 2012
I'm not going to say much about these photos because I do believe they speak for themselves.
Just shortly after they were taken, though, shit hit the fan. Then the fan flung the shit everywhere causing a big mess. I have never before physically felt my blood pressure rise, or physically felt it be that high and I hope I never do again. There are some children in this world that do not know how to behave, have no discipline, and have no respect. Until now I never understood why some kids were sent to military schools in the middle of the night without warning. Now I get it. Whether it's the fault of the parent or just how the kid is... some kids need discipline in a military fashion in order to shape the hell up.
I took the advice of my aunt and started sending the kids outside with work to do, and if they didn't do it, I'd give them a low mark. Well, the work and the low marks are still not enough to encourage them to behave. Now it's a game and they even prefer to go outside. So glad they enjoy my lessons (sarcasm). I have come to the realization that children need discipline not just from school but from home, too. Without one or the other, they won't behave. It's been a year and a half here and I'm out of ideas and almost out of patience.
25 January 2012
I've heard stories of how my mom used to roll her hair around orange juice cans and sleep in order to have big, loose, curls. I'm not sure about you, but that sure doesn't sound like I'd be getting a good night's sleep if I did that. So instead, I'm trying this: sock bun curls. My hair might have been too wet for this, but we'll see in the morning! I may have to experiment a few different ways. Maybe if I do this every night my hair will remember that at one point it used to curl/wave beautifully and therefore it will start to do it again. (Why did I wish to have straight hair??!!)
24 January 2012
Besides giving students bad marks due to their behavior in lessons, there are two other punishments I've noticed other teachers in my school doing. The little kids are told to stand up with their arms up above their head. This can last anywhere from 2 minutes to the entire class period, depending on the behavior of the student and the mood of the teacher. The big kids are usually not asked to do this. However, both the big kids and the little kids are sent out into the hall when they are misbehaving. Now, this is something up until this point I have been 100% absolutely against. I do not feel that it is a correct punishment to send students outside because I feel that they cannot learn if they are not in the classroom, and they obviously would prefer not to be there, so it is a form of reward to them to be sent outside... and I don't want to reward their disruptive behavior. Well, with barely over 4 months to go, I just don't care anymore. I'm tired of dealing with their shit. If they don't want to be there, I don't want them there either. At this point I am not going to convince them learning can be fun and English is important and they are lucky to have me (ha)... because if that was going to happen, it would have already happened. They are disruptive to my lessons and distracting to other students. So, I'm sending them out. It may be against what I believe, but I'd rather have a classroom where the kids that want to learn have an environment to learn.
The funny thing is that I started doing this today as I was covering a class for one of my partner teachers. When I told the kids to leave, they didn't want to leave... and actually kind of shaped up a bit. Hopefully this will help to keep the rest of this week flowing smoothly since I will be teaching every class alone in the place of my partner because she has gone to the capital to help her daughter, who just had a baby. Fingers crossed.
23 January 2012
19 January 2012
Today as the passing period began between the first and second lesson, I was wrapping up a very educational game of with the 11th form UNO (practicing rule following, patience, colors, numbers, and following directions). I am left alone for the rest of the week teaching one of my partner teacher’s classes because her daughter had a baby and she is in Chisinau with her (as she should be). Yesterday was the first day I was taking over for her and the first lesson I had was with the 6th form and they were absolutely terrible. Absolutely. Terrible. Actually, most of the class was pretty good except for a couple of students that made the lesson practically unbearable. Anyways, this class walked in as I was wrapping up the educational activity with the 11th form. Of course they wanted to spend their lesson doing the same educational activity but after a day like yesterday, there was no way I would allow it. We were having a lesson, and I told them so. When we were about half-way through the lessons they asked (for the first time since I turned them down) if they could play UNO. Because I couldn’t believe how hard they were working and how behaved they were, I agreed, but told them we had to finish our current activity first. I could not believe those students that were in front of me quietly using the dictionaries, doing their work, and participating in the lesson were the same students that started my day off on the wrong foot yesterday. Yelling does not solve anything. Positive reinforcement does help. These kids live on it.
17 January 2012
I realize this image may not mean a lot to you, but trust me when I say it means a lot to me. I never knew 750 words could be so difficult to write but when writing a grant proposal there is a lot of information to be included in those 750 words so it is important to be as precise as possible and use the best language. Seven drafts later, I am presenting you with the final one. With this I hope you now understand what I will be doing after I finish my Peace Corps service in Moldova. In the next couple of months I will be putting together a video which I hope to post on kickstarter and emphas.is to raise funding, in addition to this grant. But before I post the final draft, I would like to say what I learned while writing this.
- Grant writing takes time. LOTS AND LOTS of it.
- It is OK to completely start over from scratch more than once.
- The way sentences are worded can make a world of a difference both in creating a mood and in word count
- Ask for more than one opinion
- The more information included, the better
- BE CONFIDENT. Don't let the readers think you are unsure of yourself and your project, but let's be honest: if you were, you wouldn't be writing the proposal in the first place, right?
- It is difficult to write captions for photographs
- When submitting photographs, make sure to read all of the requirements (pixels and dpi)
- Make sure to read all of the requirements for the resumé. References might be requested
- Maybe an online Masters degree in photojournalism and documentary photography isn't such a bad idea after all.
Mahatma Gandhi said, “If we are to reach peace in this world… we shall have to begin with the children.” One shared connection among children around the world is school education. Due to its prominence in so many young lives in the classroom, my project holds great potential to promote the kind of peace Gandhi envisioned. The goal of the project is a cultural exchange between the participating schools around the world through photography and social studies. With the dawning of the Internet Age, the world is becoming smaller every day; therefore, it is increasingly important for children to become familiar and culturally aware of the connected world around them by seeing and learning about the similarities and differences of children just like them in the participating schools. When awarded this grant, I will begin with the children in Bangalore, India then travel to Guatemala and Cameroon, staying with families a minimum of two months to show the complete story of education in the life of children. Each photo essay will be the story of one student from each school. I will then return to the schools to showcase the images and stories to the students in an educational interactive presentation.
The culture of teenagers in schools in places like India, Guatemala, and Cameroon seem vastly different on the outside, but really have many similarities. Because I have had limited opportunity to begin the project while in the Peace Corps, I cannot give a proper comparison of the three locations. However, I will compare my high school in middle-class America with a school in rural Moldova. At sixteen, I received a car for my birthday. I woke up early to skip the morning traffic of teenagers and businessmen in the half-mile between my home and school. We used up-to-date science equipment, Smartboards before anyone knew what they were, and teachers remained after hours to answer questions regarding homework. I practiced sports after school, went to work to make money for the latest fashion or weekends at the cinema, ate McDonalds for dinner and raced home to do my homework and chat online. I could not wait for the freedom that came with college.
When a youth turns sixteen in Moldova, they receive a new coat or a smartphone for their birthday. They use the asphalt patch at school to play football; not park cars. Most parents of sixteen-year-olds do not own a car because they do not need one; everything they need is either found in the village or a short mini-bus ride away. They wake up early to walk forty-five minutes to school, and use science equipment from the Soviet times. When the bell rings at 2 p.m., the school empties in minutes as teachers and students rush home to prepare meals for their families. Children help with chores and then use their smartphones or computers to chat with friends online. Their chief entertainment is the Friday night disco, where socializing and dancing takes precedent. They cannot wait to finish the 12th form to work or study abroad, making money for their families.
This is merely a surface-level exploration of school culture in Moldova, and with the assistance of this grant and crowdfunding websites emphas.is and kickstarter, I will begin to properly document different cultures around the world. The constants of my project are the age of the students and public schools in urbanized environments. I will begin in Bangalore, India, living with a family of a high-school student for a minimum two months because children must grow comfortable with the camera in order for a photographer to properly document the environment of a school. The goal of this project is creating peace through cultural awareness within the classroom. Therefore I will be keeping a photo-heavy blog of my journey that non-English speaking students will be able to follow because the images posted will be enough to tell the story. Upon the project’s completion, I will return to the selected locations, putting the images together in an interactive educational slideshow, telling stories, and holding a discussion with the students comparing school cultures around the world. As this project continues, anyone will be able to follow the blog, thus not only creating cultural awareness in the schools where I intend to photograph, but also around the world.
This is a project about cultures, bringing peace to the world through children of the world, and giving back to the people who help me. It begins with the day of the children.
In 2010 I came to Moldova to teach English as a Volunteer. One secondary activity I participated in was spending a weekend in an orphanage where an American missionary group had been just months earlier to build new beds for the children. They brought with them many new toys and lacked structure when interacting with the children. When fifteen Peace Corps Volunteers showed up for a weekend of activities, our goals were structure and showing them we care. Upon arrival, the children immediately thought taking supplies, cameras, and phones from our hands, hitting our behinds, and climbing on us was acceptable. This is the message that was left by the missionaries who came through months earlier. Those missionaries thought they finished the job, so they will never return but we will. My project does not have an end because there will always be cultures to share and I will return and continue the contact after I leave. I do not want to leave the students behind and make them feel like they are just a project for me. I want them to continuously be involved in the project. I will be keeping a blog that will be very image heavy for those people that do not speak English, because this is a project more about the images and the thoughts they provoke and less about the words. As I document their culture they will see it, and as I document another culture, they will also see it. When I return to the schools to show the images, that is when they will get the structured message that comes with the photographs.
(on a side note: grant writing is very hard.)
16 January 2012
However, I do want to say that if I came off as depressed or in a bad place, that was not my intention. I'm happy! Very happy! In fact, I'm more confident in myself than I've ever been! At the time of writing the post (more specifically this one), I was struggling with major decisions. It is all good, though, and I know the decisions I'm making are the right ones! Change has always been a struggle for me but it's always turned out well once I get used to it. Change is good! ...usually ;)
This bad-housewife fact was reiterated last week when I went to visit Maria. We'd had a little bit of a drizzle over the night and so it was kind of muddy, but I just had to see my new doorbell friend Dasa. She has decided she likes to crawl on my lap now which is fine when I wear jeans because, well, the dirt hides well. It does not, however, hide well on light gray dress pants. Needless to say I had little paw prints all over my thighs. When I arrived at Maria's house I told her as soon as I entered I needed a damp cloth to clean my pants because there is no way I could go to school with (obviously) dirty pants. She insisted I use a dry cloth which I obliged to even though I didn't think it would work. It worked like MAGIC- magic I tell you! Today I decided to try it again because the dusting of snow from last night made little Dasa's paws muddy again, and again, using a dry towel on dirt cleans up clothes just nicely.
Cleaning tips of the day: read instructions. sort clothes. less is more. use a dry cloth to get mudd off of clothes.
14 January 2012
Last I checked we were living in Moldova??!!
Since making that realization, things seem to be falling into place rather quickly. In a nutshell, I want to photograph schools around the world (beginning with 3 schools the first year) and then return to the schools to share the cultures of the other schools. This is a project that will not only take time and money but it will also mean a long time outside of the States for long periods of time and also other personal sacrifices, two of which became apparent to me last night. However, with the personal sacrifices set aside, like I said, things seem to be falling into place. I was originally thinking of beginning the project in Mumbai or New Delhi, India, since I will be in that area, however, I could not choose which one. Then I used facebook to contact an acquaintance who had once asked me to take her senior photos, who is from India. She suggested another city which is the 3rd largest and once I looked it up, things just came one after another for schools and possible contacts and life there, thus making me feel much more comfortable with the decision.
What I've learned from this is, once again, is everything happens for a reason. Certain relationships in my life have helped shape me to grow in ways that I never thought were possible and when having to make a choice it's important to really think about that choice. Traveling in France (post coming this weekend) over winter break showed me what it means to be an adult and how much more enjoyable traveling is when making responsible decisions (not to say that I don't ever make responsible decisions, I do, just sometimes I make not-so-responsible decisions... let's be honest). It is important to be confident in oneself to make wise decisions, and to be confident in oneself in general. I have had a very low self-esteem for a very long time and it is only recently that I have realized just how awesome I really am (ha) and that I can do great things, even if these things take time (goal-setting!).
Whew. Ok. Now my choice is to stop reflecting and get working on finishing up those photos from France. Know, though, that there is a new side of me coming out and you're going to like it.
08 January 2012
Note: always go for Starbucks when in an airport. Or don't sleep through the free stuff on the plane.
03 January 2012
01 January 2012
This young man opened the door for her.
... Then he proceeded to scare her when he held onto her arm to help her step down, but she responded with "thank you very much, but by now I'm use to this. Happy New Year!