“1, 2, 3…Click” (from Betty)
Photographs…we snap, click, share, post, and print. Everyday many of us take for granted the ease with which we document our lives.
I remember the first time I came to Zambia with A to Z Literacy Movement, back in 2010. It was my first experience in Africa. Children giggled with delight as I showed them the photographs I had taken of them. For many, it was a first glimpse at themselves. They may not have a mirror at home or glass in their windows to see their reflection. It was an eye-opening experience for me, a person who documents every part of my life with photographs (just ask my own children).
I know what I choose to photograph, to document when I come to Zambia, but what’s important to the children and teachers we work with? What’s meaningful in their lives? What would they chose to document? This year I chose photography as a way to find the answers to these questions and encourage writing skills along the way.
In a conversation with Moses yesterday, he mentioned, “This could be important for me because when I grow up and have my own family, I could tell a story about my own life. My kids, I can tell them work hard, and they can know how I felt.”
I want to listen to our Zambian friends tell their stories…in photographs and words…both oral and written.
With four donated digital cameras and two of my own, I’m going to teach some basic photography skills and tie these photos into lessons about writing skills. It’s easier to write about what you know.
I’ve got a portable (donated) photo printer, and lots of time each evening. I’m going to print out photos that the children and teachers of Shine Zambia Reading Academy take…as we walk through their compounds, work at their lessons, and play at school this week.
Before I traveled here this week, I created a photo book full of my photos from my two previous experiences teaching in Zambia. Today I used this photo book to teach about how I look at cultural experiences through my lens. I talked with the students (and teachers during our lunchtime learning) about how to use the cameras and compose good photos, as well as listened to their ideas about what to photograph.
My first photography walk with students was chaotic because they couldn’t wait to take pictures, but they did a fabulous job. They politely asked people in the compound surrounding the school if they could photograph them. They chose wonderful subjects. Notice the three girls heading down that road? They were trying to get photos of some Guinea hens.
I’m sharing the photos I took with my phone…to give you a flavor of our walk. More fun tomorrow with two other level 2 classes.
I hope to compile the pictures and words from this week into a new book; one to share the gift of self expression from the wonderful students and teachers at Shine.
It was a great first day at Shine!