Triple Exposure Update: Investing in Youth
To give you an update on how our Triple Exposure project is going, let me tell you the story of Mahmoud Aghbar. Mahmoud is 14 and lives in the same neighborhood where TYO is located, which means he is free to stop by whenever he wants! He joined our photography class in the Fall of 2009 and the last time I saw him was last week, when he popped into my office to ask when classes would begin again (we’re currently on a short break in between the fall and spring sessions at TYO). Mahmoud took to photography immediately – after only four months of class, his beautiful photo of a man walking in the rain was selected for first prize in the Waleed Photography Magazine Young Photographers’ Competition! Though we took on a new batch of photo students in the Summer of 2010, Mahmoud asked if he could keep coming to class as a volunteer; since then he has helped me teach photography and film to kids as old as and sometimes older than himself. He loves using computers and is my go-to for help when teaching the kids how to edit their photos and films. He’s not always available to come help out – like far too many young Palestinian kids, Mahmoud spends his spare time (particularly during the summer) working to help his family. But he’s been continuing to work on his photography, using the camera that he won from the competition, and last year he came to my office with a particular question. “Doris, how can I go to visit America?” I answered that there are a number of programs that will invite and pay for young Palestinians to visit the U.S. “Okay, how can I apply?” I told him: “I’m sorry, Mahmoud, you have to speak very good English to participate in these programs.”
“Okay, can you teach me English?” We started English lessons twice a week. Soon his cousins and friends came to join the class as well, and I work to help them develop conversation and comprehension skills.
This is how Triple Exposure has progressed since its beginning in 2009. Our emphasis on working with the same children for years at a time has helped us really get to know them, to learn their hopes and ambitions and to help them grow as leaders, as self-initiators, as voices (and maybe someday ambassadors!) to the outside world. At the “Suwarna” Children’s Photography Exhibition in Ramallah last year, Mahmoud was interviewed by a Turkish TV channel: “I feel very proud to have won the contest, and I dream of becoming a photographer or a journalist like the ones who come to visit our class,” Mahmoud told the correspondent.
To see more Mahmoud’s photography and learn how you can get involved with Triple Exposure at TYO, visit: www.tripleexposure.net.