by Bishnu Bhatta, PSD-Nepal CEO
Photography for Change ICE (Institute for Collaborative Education) Youth Arts, Writing and Photography Program, New York, USA
Since 2015 ICE and PSD Nepal have been working with the Tri-Ratna Co-Operative School (TRCS) in Bungamati, Nepal. The shared work we have done with TRCS has been a wonderful opportunity for both the young people from the NYC school and TRCS to be part of an international educational arts and environmental awareness collaboration. In this collaboration, students and educators work together in sharing information about their respective cultures, lifestyles, the environment, their homes, hopes and dreams. They communicate these ideas through student-centered workshops using photography, film, art, citizen journalism, and community service work.
Once again, this year three teachers and 13 students from the New York City Institute for Collaborative Education School were in Nepal to illustrate the examples of practical and active learning. The relevance of this project was to allow students to open up to the teachers more easily and to provide them practical knowledge of journal writing, field work, taking and editing photos in order to create photo stories of the world around us. Students from NYC benefited from both the formal and informal cultural exchange that happened within small group workshops and a productive and creative itinerary that included NYC students teaching the host students how to use photography, art, and creative writing to give themselves a voice in their community and express their culture in an artistic fashion. At the same time the host students from TRCS extended and contributed to that cultural exchange through informal, productive and creative introductions to their culture with ICE students using community interaction within the school and the surrounding community.
The work of these students culminates in a school-wide celebration with a photo exhibition at the Tri-Ratna Co-Operative School. This celebration included music and dance representative of the Nepali culture, the enriching academic successes of the Tri-Ratna Co-Operative School, and finally, the wonderful storytelling through photography and the arts that the students from NYICE and TRCS have created through their collaborative workshops, were the families and surrounding community of Bungamati visiting to see the work these young people have done.