Community Close-Ups with Triple Exposure
TYO’s photography students began the second module of Triple Exposure’s curriculum this week when they began to explore their communities with the camera. TYO encourages students to explore their place within Nablus and Nablus’ place within Palestine, the Middle East, and the world. Activities like this one are designed to give students the tools to focus on personal citizen identities by connecting with their neighborhoods and more extensive surroundings. By leaving the confines of the classroom and venturing into the heart of Nablus, Triple Exposure students have an opportunity to look at their city from a completely new perspective.
This week, beginner and advanced classes went on field trips in local Khallet al-Amood and Nablus’ Byzantine Old City. Students were challenged to interact with the streets and blocks on which they’ve grown up in new and creative ways. By merging artistic perspective with something that is routine and ordinary, students are gaining an appreciation for the city they come from and how that community has shaped their individual identities. Educational theorists have maintained that a person’s participation in and interaction with their community is central to the construction of individual identities and establishes a sense of belonging (Wenger, 1998: 4). By using the camera to engage with their surroundings, Triple Exposure students are developing their personal citizen identities in ways that are rarely possible for young people in Palestine.
Many students in TYO’s photography class come from backgrounds in which education and creative skills are under-valued. Triple Exposure gives young Nabulsis the opportunities to develop an appreciation for these values while benefitting from TYO’s psychosocial approach to community development. Studies have shown that participation in extra-curricular activities like those offered at TYO is associated with greater academic achievements, positive behavioral outcomes, and a child’s overall development. Over the next three weeks, Triple Exposure will engage with students in such a way that they are challenged to re-examine their individual identities in relation to their neighborhoods, city, country, region, and world. Ultimately, these few weeks of classes will contribute to a vital part of TYO’s greater mission: to enable children to “realize their potential as healthy, active and responsible family and community members.”
Zak is a Fall 2013 intern at TYO in Nablus