When I’m on the island, the children there must think my camera is just an extension of my arm. I certainly start to feel like the camera and my hand are married to each other. It was with some trepidation, then, that I put my black plastic baby into the hands of a student and said, “Here, you try.”
During this summer, I’ve talked a lot about how many things I’ve learned, but this past week reminded me that the learning isn’t all one-sided. The head boy, Okech Benad, had been intently watching as I took photos, and so I gave him a quick tutorial on how the camera worked. After the first few photos, he began to catch on quickly, and he even began to experiment with canted angles, intentionally tilting the camera for some shots.
Here are some of his first photos, of some boys demonstrating their athletic moves:
After closing assembly, the students would cluster around to see photos taken over the course of the day. There would be at least 15 children trying to maneuver their heads to see the small screen on the back of my camera; personal space is not really a high priority here. Afterwards, they would want to take more photos, but this time with the Muzungu in the photos, so again Benad graciously–and excitedly–took over the camera.
Isaiah, the boy standing on the left, also asked me to show him how to work the camera, and not only how to take photos, but also to take video. Ouma Steven, the wide-eyed boy right above my head, is one of the craziest kids at the school, maybe in the entire island. And Zaina, the girl sitting in blue two over from me, was very concerned that the photos be good. She did not approve of how this shot was turning out:
But for this one, she was much happier:
In this one, Syesi Covinat (left), Aisa (right) and I are supposed to be posing like American models:
Showing a student how to take a photo seems like a small thing. Talking to a group of them and answering their questions about life in America seems like a small thing. But when one of them comes up some time later and shyly says, “Thank you for telling us these things,” I realize that these small things are maybe not insignificant. It’s moments like those that will make it difficult to leave.