Photo: Matt Eich
As part of the final exam today my students wrote an essay about their favorite multimedia project of the semester. I showed a variety of work including some of the classics like “Becoming Human” and several of the Magnum in Motion projects.
In the beginning of the semester we saw “Love in the First Person” (by Matt and Mellisa Eich produced by Media Storm) that turned out to the clear favorite. The class was moved by the raw honesty of the piece and really identified with Matt and Mellisa who are about the same age as most of the students. This comment from Monica sums it up: “From my point of view the word love is a gift of God but depends on the kind of person you are in love with. Love is all about caring and having faith and this exactly what I saw in Matt and Melissa’s relationship. They were young but mature enough to make the most important decision of their life.” Life is beautiful but as Matt stated “nothing good comes without struggling.”
Interesting comment especially in terms of the differences between East-West, and Muslim-Christian cultures. After all, for many in Bangladesh arranged marriages are the norm. It’s clear, we need more work like this that skillfully portrays our real- life stories.
When Shibu Jose (pronouced Joes) emailed me six months ago I had assumed he was from Latin America. It turns out that he’s from Kerala, India and is the other Fulbright scholar in the Environmental Science department at IUB this semester. Shibu is an Associate Professor of Forest Ecology with the School of Forest Resources and Conservation at the University of Florida in Gainesville. He attended Purdue University, the same school my father in law taught at.
We live in the same guest house here in Dhaka and have been sharing countless meals together since his arrival in January. It’s been great getting to know him. Always nice to have someone to commiserate with during the frequent power outages. Shibu is the one who suggested that I read “The White Tiger”, an excellent novel about modern day India. So much of that book describes what I’ve been seeing in Bangladesh these past nine months.
Young girl on her way to school
The Daily Star, Dhaka’s English language Newspaper ran a nice article about the photography workshop I recently gave at IUB. Plans are now in the works to exhibit some of the work on campus. Thanks again to Shams Bin Quader, IUB faculty and staff for helping make this happen.
Photo © Mohammad Zakir Hossain
I just wrapped up a four day Photography workshop at IUB and wasn’t so sure that it was going to come together until the last minute. On the last day as I was showing the students how to construct a multimedia presentation we had power cuts- they call it load shedding here- almost every other hour on the hour. For some reason the IPS back up power supply didn’t work either. Some guy, or maybe a woman, decides which neighborhood get turned off. IUB is located in Baridhara, the wealthiest part of the country. Lack of electricity and water are much more severe in other parts of the city.
Photo © Asif Khan
Bangladeshis are extremely resourceful and pull together when they have to. When the power finally returned, we made a final edit, sequenced the photos and made a couple of title images. With only a few minutes left we changed locations and presented our work to an enthusiastic audience. I better post this now before the power goes out again.
Rickshaw art, Dinajpur, North Bengal
Yesterday I introduced my students to twitter. It hasn’t taken off yet here in Bangladesh. Most were skeptical but today I noticed quite a few of them “following” me:) Thanks to Mindy McAdams for the reminder.
Speaking of photography, I posted forty full screen images from Bangladesh on www.hillerphoto. com.
Army tanks roll into Dharmondi, Photo © Salman Saeed
As part of their midterm assignments I had my students write a post about what happpened on Feburary 25, 2009. These essays are a powerful testimony to the “decade zero” generation of Bangladesh- those coming of age in the early part of the twenty- first century. They are eloquently written, in the student’s second language no less. I’m proud of you. Take a look here, here, here and here.
Bangladeshi workers returning home from the Mid East, Dubai
The majority of the passengers flying from Dubai to Dhaka were single men returning home from working in the Mid-East. The ones I spoke with were coming from Kuwait. With the global economic downturn I’m sure the situation isn’t good for them. The author James Novak in his book on Bangladesh “Reflections on Water” got it right 15 years ago and the situation hasn’t changed much since. On the first page he describes the middle aged expat NGO types flying into Dhaka for their meetings and conferences escaping the winter months of the USA and Europe. There were a few of them on my flight too.
The gate from Baridhara to the other Bangladesh
The taxi ride back into town felt strangely familiar. The local tea stall owner and rickshaw drivers in my neighborhood were in the same place as when I last saw them three weeks ago. Things appear chaotic at first glance but there is an hidden order to it. People have schedules and follow them to say nothing of all their hard work. Most of us would go off the deep end if we had to live that way for one hour.
Last weekend I went on a field trip with the art class from IUB led by professor Nazir Ahmed. He took over 70 students to the National Art Museum and a few other galleries. I love the creative projects he has done with students such as painting murals and launching exhibits on campus. Nazir studied in Norway and shares my taste for eclectic music. The permanent collection of paintings at the National Museum was a huge inspiration. World class artists with a variety of styles. Some even looked African influenced. I had never heard of these artists but am sure some of their work is in European museum collections.
Martyrs of the 1971 Liberation War, Dhaka University
Students in my Interactive Media class are creating some excellent blogs this semester on topics such as: The Environment, The 1971 Liberation War, The influence of Indian culture on Bangladesh, Bengali author Rabindranath Tagore and the Lost professions of old Dhaka. I’ve also included more in the student blog links on the right column. Take a look. If something strikes your interest feel free to comment.