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.
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.
Memorial to slain military officers outside of my office at IUB
In the two days since I’ve returned to Bangladesh I’ve met with four colleagues from the Independent University of Bangladesh (IUB) who have lost family and friends in the BDR attack inside of a military compound in Dhaka last week. Still completely shaken one of them was on the scene a few days ago with family members searching for the bodies of the missing. Yesterday students made this memorial titled “Heroes Never Die.” How and why can such a thing happen? Many theories are being discussed and some are calling it a planned massacre rather then a mutiny. It clearly wasn’t a random attack.
Military on alert in Dhaka, Feb 26, 2009. Photo © Salman Saeed
For two days last week parts of Dhaka looked like they were under siege. Over 80 army officers were murdered by lower rank BRD border patrol soldiers. Jessica Lim, a photographer friend who was on the scene last week had this to say; “There is something more to be said about the crowd. First of all – since when did people walk towards the sound of gunfire rather than away from it? Sure, they ran when it got too loud, too close. But they ran with smiles and laughter. They ran off till it was quiet, and then regrouped and came forward again. I don’t understand this. Did they not know that people had already been killed by the misfires? Was this a game to them? The worst thing was that I couldn’t tell where the guns were from, or what they were aiming at. I didn’t know where to hide my very not-bulletproof body.”
Salman Saeed was in my interactive media class but his real passion is photography. He has only been shooting for a couple of years but his boundless energy (ah youth) and charming manner have served him well. Besides, the guy has a really good eye. Salman has been a huge help showing me around Dhaka and traveling with me to Kustia last October. A few months ago during Ramadan, Salman shot this video clip of me in action with his Canon G9. It was only towards the end of the evening that I had a clue what he was up to.
Postscript: A few weeks ago in Sylhet I dropped my little Fuju point and shoot. Salman once again came to the rescue and brought it to a friend who repairs cameras . A few hours later he called me to say that the camera is all fixed and working again. Good timing since I’m taking off for winter break in a couple of days to travel in Northern Bengal and Darjeeling.
Samah’s “Dream Wedding” Blog
In less then two months my students have made terrific progress with their blogs especially considering that many of them didn’t know what blogging was about when we began. Samah got a late start but has turned into quite a marketing maven. I wouldn’t be surprised if she gets hired out as a wedding planner very soon. For mid- terms the students gave an oral presentation and critique of their blogs and sites that they frequently visit (Face Book seems to be a favorite). Check out some of their work linked in the right navigation. Class favorites include:
Samah’s “Dream Wedding”
Aneeta’s “Style Notes”
Salmans “Bangladeshi Photographer”
Safeena’s “Urban Woman of Dhaka”
My students are starting to get their blogs in shape. You can find a link to them in the right navigation. Some have chosen topics that you might find of interest. For example Safina (left in photo) will be looking at challenges facing urban woman in Bangladesh.
Many students from my class joined her last weekend for the Costal Cleanup at Cox’s Bazar. My friends in Oregon will get a kick out of that since we do the same thing on the Oregon coast. In the southeast part of the country very close to the Burmese Border, Cox’s Bazar is the longest beach in the world. It is one of Bangladesh’s main tourist destinations.