Thursday, January 25, 2007

OJOS nuevos starts in two more hogares

This week marks the beginning of two new talleres of digital photography for us. One class includes four girls from the Aldea Maria Reina, which is my taller, and the other one, with six girls under the charge of fellow volunteer Lindy Drew, is at an hogar further south in Santiago. While we have our own lesson plans, Lindy's group and my group meet regularly to discuss talleres and fieldtrips that we could do together. In addition to exploring photography, we want to give the girls an opportunity to get out of their hogares, see the city (and hopefully outside the city too), and spend time with other girls.

I thought that having taught one taller would have prepared me more for the second one. Even though my spanish is much better, and I feel more comfortable in front of the group, this taller has a much more developed syllabus. This time I am teaching in the Aldea Maria Reina, an institution that usually houses more than 70 girls and young women within its high brick walls, but during the summer has about less than half of this amount. Four young women will attend our "classes" which will meet twice each week. Besides learning how to work digital cameras, we will create stimulating visual stories, we will go on fieldtrips to see photography exhibits around the city, and we will go to the Puente Alto library to explore photography on the internet and learn how to use Photoshop.

The Aldea has a different feel than San Francisco. The girls seem a little tougher, a little more skeptical, a little less eager to blindly run up to you and hug you. Clearly this is a generalization, but each time I've been there I've noticed it. The management cares deeply for the girls, I can see that. Maybe it's the location-- on the city's southwest side instead of in the bustling center. Maybe it's the lack of resources and the effects of this on the girls. I know that if they had the funds there would be no broken windows, and the 60 year-old showers would be replaced with new ones that didn't have scalding pipes sticking out. Or maybe it's just that there is a high concentration of young women with a lot on their minds, a lot in their past, and a lot of questions about their future. OJOS nuevos at the Aldea is sure to bring all of us our own set of challenges and rewards.

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