April 03, 2007

A student takes a break from covering Palm Sunday.

A portrait of the excellent Mexican photographer, Marcela Taboada, who is one of the teachers at this workshop. Her work is extraordinarily beautiful and haunting. Her website is Marcela Taboada

I’m down in Oaxaca, Mexico taking part in another excellent National Geographic Photo Camp, geared towards local teens. We are teaching them about photography as well as storytelling. The goal is to have them produce a photo essay on their community. In this case, it’s the village of St. Agustin Etla, which is a small hamlet nestled in the mountains about 30 minutes outside of Oaxaca. Unlike the last photo camp, which was in Uganda last November (I made a blog entry about it which can be found in the archives of my blog), this one is less emotionally charged. The teens we are working with here are not refugees or internally displaced. What is interesting about them, is that most of them have parents or relatives who have immigrated illegally to the U.S. or are about to. In fact, of the original 20 students, three didn’t show at the last minute because they had crossed the border.

Lelen Robert, on the left, the editor on this project and a professor at the University of Miami, works with Kirsten Elstner, the producer and creator of National Geographic Photo Camp. Kirsten is an amazing woman who runs Vision Workshops, using photography as a teaching and art therapy tool for young people across America and now in different parts of the world.

America’s immigration policy is racist and foolish. If we don’t want to raise our children, pick our foods or wash our laundry and dishes, we should at least foster a system that allows the people who are willing to do these vital tasks a measure of dignity, safety and security. As with so many things, the United States presents itself as a beacon of good yet it’s policies are nasty and discriminatory. Here are some photos of these lovely, bright and enthusiastic young photographers.

A late night editing session with Lelen Robert and Jim Webb, who is the technical coordinator and resident guru. He works for National Geographic’s website.

Categories: Shout Outs