After last week, I wasn’t sure what to expect this week: the students were very happy and eager, but I was afraid they wouldn’t return for a second week due to scheduling conflicts or lack of interest. To my surprise and delight, all 4 students returned! Even better, in addition to Keion, Moises, Alexa, and Deborah, we got 4 new students who enrolled in the class! We welcomed Sophia and Michael, and a brother and sister duo who joined at the end of class and who we’ll get to meet more next week. Very exciting news for Community Lens 😊
We always start by writing “Welcome Community Lens” on the white board in the basement of Mount Pleasant Library where we hold our photography class. We greeted all the friendly, familiar faces and then got started with our first activity, “Move Your Bum,”. We sat in a big circle of chairs where one person in the group stood in the middle. That person says, “Move your bum if……,” and picks something that is true for them and may be true for the other students. If it’s true for you, then you have to get up and switch chairs! The last person without a chair is the new person in the middle. We all had SO much fun with this game, both us and the students. Of course, I ended up in the middle half the time, but we had everyone on their feet laughing and coming up with great reasons to move their bums. It’s especially important that we start with an ice breaker with our students because most don’t know each other, and at the ripe ages of 7, 10, and 12, it can be harder to step out of your comfort zone and it may feel awkward being outnumbered (although not anymore!) by college students. We’re lucky to have such happy, eager students because they opened up within a day of the class and actively participate in all our games and activities. Laughter is one of the best sounds in the world.
After our introductory game, we briefly went over our Community Agreement from the week before, both to remind the students of it and check if they wanted to add something, and to introduce it to the new students in the class. We then went over the concept of Community: What is in a Community? Who makes up a Community? Why are Communities in important?. For some pretty heavy philosophical questions, the students did fantastic with some prompting! They listed a bunch of places in their community, like recreational centers, schools, and churches, and told us who made up a community, they stressed police officers and fire fighters heavily, and why community is important to them: it makes them feel safe, it allows them to have fun, and it allows for teamwork. Our goal was to open their eyes to the broad definition of community, both large and small communities, and get them to identity what their community consists of.
Since last week, our students were dying to go outside and explore. They couldn’t wait to take pictures of nature and animals and houses, so when we took them outside, they were elated and starting taking pictures of everything they found: flowers, animals (especially dogs!), trees (there was a beautiful weeping willow by the Pleasant Valley Stream we walked to), and houses. They were able to get away with not following photography etiquette- not taking pictures of people without their permission- because they were young and cute, so the people in the neighborhood didn’t mind too much. They loved taking pictures outside so much that it was hard to get them back inside when the class was over! It’s safe to say they’re looking forward to our activities for next week, and we’re looking forward to seeing the world through their community lens this semester. 😊
Claire Rigaud, Providence College Class of 2018, Math Major
Our first meeting at Mt.Pleasant Library had a small turnout of young artists. I worked with four young artists and with such a small group my classmates and I were able to share a great chunk of our time with each young artist. We started by getting to know each young artist one on one. We asked things like their name, their favorite movie, what they wanted to do in life, etc. I especially liked asking some of them who chose their name for them and where their names originate from. One of them told me that their name was just like their fathers, but with an extra letter. From there we had a conversation about the rules for each meeting. It wasn’t us just telling the young artists what they could and couldn’t do, but a discussion in which each one was able to say something they believe should be a rule for each meeting. Next, we gave them cameras and showed them how they functioned. We let them go out to the library and take pictures. With such a small group, we could share everyone’s pictures and say a little something about we thought about them. It was interesting to see what each person had to say because I know for myself my artistic eye was still developing and starting out just like the young artists. Walking into the library was like walking into uncharted and complex territory. Of course, there were some things that I saw that others didn’t take pictures of, but the same also applied to me. It felt awesome being able to share with everybody things that I saw that no one else did, but then also having the same done for me where I would see a picture of something that I missed in the library. It was even better when the young artists and my classmates would explain why they took the picture and what it meant to them.
I don’t really know at this point what I want our group to experience from these meetings. I also don’t know what I expect for myself to learn. All I know is that I just want communication. In some ways, it is good that I don’t know what I need to understand yet, but as long as we are open and in dialogue, I know that we will get somewhere. In the end, all I think I want for every person to understand is that communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, and mutual valuing. The young artists in our first meeting were somewhat shy which is understandable since it was our first meeting. They usually said a few words or just one sentence about their thoughts on a thing. I thought it was quite serendipitous when one student went to say that it was awesome that we were all taking photos because each person had a unique view on things and was special. This especially warmed my heart and the rest of my classmates to hear. This artist already knew the mutual value in each person’s outlook. As we go farther into the year, I am ecstatic to see how each person will progress and how they will get better in analyzing and discussing their photos with everyone. Most of all, I hope everyone comes to truly appreciate the value in one another just like that one young artist did that day.
Ivan Vukusic, Providence College Class of 2018, Computer Science Major and Music Minor
"Coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is the progress. Working together is success." -Henry Ford
The Community Lens students at Providence College have been busy in class talking about ways in which photography can be used to build up and empower communities and learning camera functions. We have also been sharing some of our own photography with one another on themes that we hope to introduce to our Young Artists. This semester's Community Lens is not only excited to announce the start of our collaboration with the Young Artist of Providence but also the beginning of a new partnership with Mt. Pleasant Library. As well as introducing our new partnership, we are excited to announce the continuation of our partnership with Providence CityArts!
On Wednesday, September 27th the group of Providence College students that are going to be working with Mt. Pleasant Library had the opportunity to get orientated with the organization. We spent sometime learning about the Library, going over some important ground rules, and then got a little tour of the space. Afterwards, we went around the Library introducing ourselves to the youth in the library to spread the word about the upcoming photography course that we would be facilitating. At the end we decided to do a little walking tour of the neighborhood and checked out the community around Mt. Pleasant. The students working with CityArts! had a similar orientation on Friday, September 29th.
The Providence College students are all thrilled to begin our work with the Young Artists of Providence and cannot wait to share with you our journey of community photo storytelling.
Also!!! Mark your calendars now! This years exhibition reception will take place at Providence CityArts in South Providence on Thursday, November 30th.
Kristen Lawler, Providence College Class of 2018, Global Studies Major and Spanish Minor