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March 3rd, 2009

Ed Kashi: Travels in India 4

Posted by Ed Kashi

During Ed Kashi’s recent travels in Rajasthan, India, he pondered the significance of family and teaching in his photography career. Here he talks about the difficult but rewarding experience of teaching a National Geographic Photo Camp. Don’t miss his next post where he talks openly about his struggle to see his work as important in the face of so many dire situations around the world.
Students at the National Geographic Photo Camp in Rajasthan, India, learning to use a camera for the first time. © Ed Kashi

Students at the National Geographic Photo Camp in Rajasthan, India, learning to use a camera for the first time. © Ed Kashi


The first day of the workshop was frustrating due to a selfish teaching assistant. I was tired and cold and wanted to go home. Until then the workshop had not been satisfying; the kids were too timid, unengaged with us, and the conceit of the structure of the workshop began to show through for me. The power and importance of education is what I learn from these experiences, not always smooth or easy.

This workshop was a challenge, to bridge the gaps between us and the students, as well as between the city and rural kids. By day three the magic had begun, with the shy and nervous rural kids finding their voices and comfort levels, expressing themselves more openly to the instructors as well as their urban workshop mates. Likewise, the city kids began to shed their pretensions and superiority complexes, opening up and letting themselves just have fun.

By the end of the workshop the kids had made new friends, the shy had come out of their shells and the smart city kids had shown tremendous teamwork and supported their non-English-speaking rural peers. It was heart warming to see how well the two groups coalesced to support one another, had fun by sharing music and other teenage things, and ultimately moved past their previous stereotypical impressions of one another. Breaking down barriers is what this workshop and my life are dedicated to.

During the workshop’s graduation ceremony, my team of 5 students created and presented me with a poster; I’ve included a few of my favorite comments from it below. I love the first one, written by a stick-thin and very shy village girl named Deepika, who was crying the first day trying to hold a camera to her face and close one eye, something we photographers take for granted but for her was an impossibly weird and discomfiting thing to do.

Deepika…“I like your nature and behavior. I love the way you talk. We were able to learn lot from you and I even like you.”

From another student…“You teach us really nicely. You are very joyful person, which keep us energetic.”

Darhmendra….”I love your style of photography and how you solve our problems.”

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