Photography Exchange Program Brings Cultures Into Focus

 By Priscila Oliveira, ChildFund Brasil

Photographs span different languages and long distances, as a group of American and Brazilian students learned during an exchange program. In January, 12 students from Soka University in California’s Orange County traveled to Brazil to work with teens involved in ChildFund Brasil’s Photovoice project.

group picture of studnets

Students from California participated in a photography workshop with Brazilian youth.

The group gathered in the city of Medina for a workshop. The teens and college students shared their approaches toward setting up pictures and, along the way, gained an appreciation for a different culture.

“It was an exchange where all students were engaged in teaching and learning,” says ChildFund Brasil Social Program Manager Dov Rosenmann.

The workshops took place at Medina’s Little House of Culture, another important project of ChildFund, which has worked in Brazil for 46 years. The space is meant to revive community bonds and pride in their cultural roots. Children, teens and young adults often find encouragement to pursue arts and other interests there while also gaining technological skills.

college students

The Soka University students from California.

Besides participating in the Photovoice workshops, the American students also donated six digital cameras and one projector that will be used by students from the communities that participate in this project.

Photovoice was developed by ChildFund Brasil in partnership with social organizations all over the country with the goal of promoting peaceful coexistence and healthy social relationships among young people through the art of photography. Participants take pictures of daily life in their communities, many of which are lacking necessary resources.

In addition to acquiring knowledge about photography, the young people have the opportunity to express their points of view about the daily life in the community and to reflect with criticism about what they photograph. More than 300 youths have taken part in Photovoice.

The teens decide on which subjects to capture — often family relationships, local culture, nature and social themes. “The importance is to capture the elements that contain a meaningful story,” Rosenmann says.

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