July 10, 2007

Last week I took part in another National Geographic Photo Camp. This one was a four day affair held in Queens, New York City with the theme being immigration. The students were all high schoolers from the Newcomers High School in Queens and ranged in age from 18-20. They had immigrated from China, Bangladesh, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Taiwan. Their task was to create a photo essay on Queens as a mini melting pot of new immigrants.

Once again the power of photography to affirm life, inspire curiosity and bring dreams into reality was realized in this workshop. These young people, particularly in their ending comments about their dreams and hopes, showed why immigrants are the lifeblood of America and without a constant reinforcement of their ranks, this nation would cease to be the special place that it is. Their infusion of values, energy and spirit into our society and culture are what sustains us.

Their comments also reminded me how young Americans in particular take their situation for granted, while these young people truly appreciate how living here gives them opportunities in education, work, freedom of speech, lifestyle and politics that might be hard to find elsewhere. They also expressed the importance of friends and family and repeatedly alluded to either the loss of family ties by having moved from their mother countries or the appreciation for the family they have here in their midst.

Categories: Notes From Ed