Headed Home from Peru

July 23, 2008 | By Chris Scott | News, Photography, Photojournalism

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Picture by Chris Scott

The deadline is here – today is the day of the kids digital story screening. With the narratives finalized, photos taken and sound effects recorded, it is now time to put it all together. We (my fellow volunteers and I) have been busy putting on the finishing touches while taking frequent breaks to warm up by the fire (it’s surprisingly hard to type with blocks of ice for hands).

While sorting through the photos the kids have taken, I am surprised by what they have achieved in such a short amount of time. Apart from the many technical aspects they have picked up and demonstrated, they have managed to capture a huge amount of emotion and depth in every frame. The speed in which they have learned these techniques, and the quality of the pictures they have taken, has shown me how powerful imagery can be when communicating across language barriers. Considering my limited Spanish skills, I found this particularly enlightening.

Some pictures created by the students:

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Picture by Johan Anthony Quispe

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Picture by Ryker Labbee

Many times throughout this experience I found myself looking (unsuccessfully) for the right Spanish words to get my point across. I depended heavily on exaggerated gestures and a lot of demonstrations to communicate.

If all else failed, the kids and I turned to the universal language of football. This turned out to be pure comedy to the kids as I was terribly unfit. I still maintain it was the altitude’s effect on my respiratory system, and they just laughed as they danced around me like fireflies.

We finished the videos in the nick of time and everything was ready for the screening. There was a large turnout of pupils, parents and teachers who were all very eager to see what we’d been up to. The kids proudly presented their pieces to the audience who warmly received them. Even the kids that had been quiet and shy throughout the workshops said their bit, clearly and eloquently.

More pictures from the students:

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Picture by Sally Sefami

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Picture by Nathaly Rebeca Cacer

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Picture by Karen Doolittle

It was a great night which quickly became very sad when we realized it had all come to an end. But with regards to Bridges to Understanding, this is just the beginning. Now the school is up and running making digital stories, they have access to all other schools around the world, and hopefully, the discourse will go from strength to strength.

On the last night (very, very late), I found myself racing through the streets of Lima. I have minutes to make my flight home and the traffic conditions are the usual chaotic sprawl of weaving cars and blaring horns. As I gaze out the taxi window, it feels like just yesterday that I landed in Peru. I can’t believe how quickly it has all gone. However, if you think about all the people that I met and everything we have achieved through Bridges, if feels a lot more tenable.

Suddenly I am thrust back into reality and literally into the airport check-in desk. Before I knew it I was running to catch my flight and on the plane headed home…

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