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.
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.
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.
We haven’t had any rain for the past three months and everything is covered with a thick layer of dust. All of the construction in my neighborhood and throughout the city only adds to the debris in the air. It’s still not nearly as bad as Ghana, where many of the roads aren’t paved, and after a day outside one is caked in dust.
The new semester is off to a good start and running. I have 30 students and the classroom is packed. We havn’t had any power outages during class – I take that back, there were two a few hours ago- and the internet speed is showing signs of improvement. I love the fact that during a “typical day” I’ll be out photographing in a Madrassa nearby and half an hour later in the my class teaching students how to use Photoshop or construct a website.
This morning over at Nari Jibon I met Rezwan. We have been online friends for close to a year and I frequently link to his blog from here. He is the South Asia Editor with Global Voices, a citizen journalism news room for voices from the developing world.
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”
Reviewing student photography assignments
The past month I’ve been teaching a photography workshop at Nari Jibon, a very unique NGO here in Dhaka. Hira (pictured above) went out and made photo’s of men in her neighborhood for last week’s assignment. How cool is that!
Nari Jibon means Woman’s Lives in Bangla and was founded by Dr. Kathy Ward, a Sociology professor from Southern Illinois University. Nari Jibon serves a diverse group of women and girls ranging from Bengali medium students with some English skills to women with limited literacy in Bangla and little or no education. Over the past three years, they have continually served the needs of the women and their families. They currently offer two programs. The larger one offers English/computer skills and gives the women an opportunity to learn to read, write, and speak in office level English or improve existing English skills. Their technology director Taslima Akter, has also taught several of the woman to “tell their stories” through blogging.
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.
My box of books and supplies finally arrived from the States. One of the best purchases I made was a little HP photo printer that spits out a 4×6 inch print in two minutes. The quality is excellent and you don’t even need a computer. Just plug the memory device into the printer, press the button and instant Polaroid. This will be a fantastic way of saying thanks to all the kind people in my neighborhood who have invited me into their homes.