Working With the Kids

October 30, 2008 | By Helen Tapping | News, Photography, Photojournalism

Today we met with the Bridges to Understanding staff Lori & Tanya, & Josh, the photography instructor, to briefly discuss the mentoring aspect of the workshop. Suddenly 12 shy, but smiling, Tibetan students entered the classroom & dragged their chairs to the back of the room!

Lori got us up & moving around with an introductory aerobics session & energetic name game. I’ll never remember all of the Tibetan names, although about half of them start with Tenzin, so if in doubt that’s my best guess!

We started the workshop with a photography scavenger hunt with the kids, asking them to  take both explicit and implicit photos of fairly complex concepts such as dreams,  freedom and compassion. Pema, Palkyi & I ventured out in a rather nervous fashion, but I had nothing to worry about — these kids are smart and creative and as soon as a concept was explained to them, no matter how abstract, they totally got it and snapped some great shots.  I think the Getty Images’ photographers have some competition!

Picture by Palkyi

Picture by Pema

Picture by Pema

After presenting all of the work, we were taken on a tour of TCV,  and discovered most of the kids live in group houses, looked after by a house mother, as most of  the students are either orphaned or their parents are in  back in Tibet and the children escaped on their own when very young.  Only three of the students we met lived outside of the TCV, and some students don’t have any relatives at all.

The visit to the “baby house” was very entertaining. The kids grabbed us as soon as we arrived & insisted on showing us around, even though they couldn’t speak,  It was our first realization that although the kids were well loved, by the TCV staff, they were all still seeking attention and contact of any kind. Chris became a human climbing frame until he was rescued by Choeppel, one of the teachers.

The tour took us past the temple where we saw a monk teaching the finer points of debate to two focused students…

(image 30 monk)

…past many group houses, the football field & dozens of kids playing. Ping pong seemed to be a particular favorite.

There’s a tuck shop on site as well as a book shop and canteen.

The tour ended at the library, where I was again accosted, this time by 2 students who wanted me to help them read Dr Seuss. Try to explain the meaning of some of those words to Tibetan kids!

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