Saturday, January 24, 2009

Farewell Dominica

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

Today, we're up early and packing. We thought we'd have plenty of room with so much of the equipment being left behind, but Barb seems to have bought so many woven baskets. A total of 7!

Gelina picked us up and delivered us to a taxi stand in Roseau. It was a long 1 ½ mile winding ride to the airport where we boarded the American Eagle flight to San Juan and connecting service to Baltimore. As great as it is be home, it’s cold and we miss the kids.

Upon our return, we’re pleased to learn that Irvin Durand of Visual Arts Society of Dominica and CCF are working together to continue the photography course that we presented in Grand Bay!

They are planning to use the cameras and other equipment that we left behind, as well as our curriculum. We blushed and feel honored to hear that they want to call the program the Clarke Photography Challenge.

We’ve also received an e-mail from Gelina telling us about television coverage of the exhibition which included the speech by Jack! We also hear that a CCF office in Angola, Africa has also asked for information about our course.

To see some of the student pictures, our class and the exhibition, click here.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Exhibition Day!

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

We arrived at the school early and set up the posters in the auditorium so that the kids' classmates could view their work. Everything was on display from 9 a.m. to noon and many of the school's students and teachers came to see the posters.

Afterwards, we took all of the posters to the Old Fort in Grand Bay and put them on walls for the afternoon exhibition. Many people passing by on the street came in and took a look at all the wonderful work out students did.

At about 3:30 p.m., the president of the country, President Liverpool, arrived with his security detail and several members of the local press. He and his wife were escorted in and a short program was presented by CCF director Francis Joseph. I also gave a quick speech and Barb and Gelina presented each student with their portfolio and participation certificate.

Lunch was served to the president and guests. The slideshow showcased more of the students’ work and the president strolled around to look at the posters. All in all, it was a great ending to a long and roller coaster of three weeks!

A little about the president: The Commonwealth of Dominica is an independent country with a democratically elected legislature and head of state. Like in Great Britain, the head of state is the prime minister. The president is elected by the legislature, and serves in a figure head role attending government and special social functions around the country. President Liverpool is much loved by his citizens.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Print, Cut, Decorate, Repeat - Preparing for the Exhibition

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

Wednesday we worked all morning on the computer, reviewing the work they did during the field trip, cataloging pictures and choosing the best work to be showcased on each child’s poster. In class, Jack reviewed the most recent work they have done.

Today we finished the poster prints and each student designed a poster with 7 to 9, 5x7, prints of their best work. For some, this was a challenge because they had plenty of great shots!

We want each child to have roughly the same number of prints so we had to hunt a little for some.

The kids were excited to make their posters and enjoyed seeing their work in print as opposed to on the screen of the computer or projected on the wall. They decorated their posters with colored pencils and were quite creative.

Tonight we finished printing the 4X6 prints for their “portfolio,” which will be our gift to them, placed in photo scrapbooks. We also finished burning them a CD of all their work. Gelina is printing certificates for them as well.

Tomorrow is the big day; exhibition day!

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A "Merry" Day at Coal Pot Soaps

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

We head back to Grand Bay today and thankfully the fire is gone. We worked on the computer all morning and then went down to the school with some trepidation.

Upon arriving, we are told there had been a shooting in the village and that one person is dead and three others wounded. The shooting was due to a drug deal gone bad! We were hoping to go on a field trip today but worry that we shouldn’t go.

The kids filed in quietly and many came up to us, personally apologized for their behavior and thanked us for coming to teach them. We consulted with the principal and Gelina, and decided that we should not go into Grand Bay, but I had requested that Georgette (the affiliate staff member working with us) call and arrange for the class to go to Coal Pot Soaps.

Coal Pot Soaps is a local business that is just down the street from the school where soap and other scrubs and lotions are made. Everyone agreed it was safe to go there as it is just down the street from the school.

When we arrived, there seems to have been some misunderstanding, and the owner told us that we were not allowed to take any pictures. Georgette and I talk and talk and try to persuade the owner to let us in and finally it worked!

Although it was cramped and they weren’t actually making anything that day, the staff was kind and staged some activity for us. Best of all, the kids were happy. We also went to a car repair shop and the kids were able to shoot there as well. Class ended on a pretty good note.

Gelina picked us up from the school and we went to her house to watch some of the inauguration of President Obama on BBC, CNN and FOX news. Her brother fried some plantain (yum, yum) and her aunt made “Merry.” “Merry” is porridge made of grated coconut, coconut milk, "provisions" (yams, dasheen, sweet potatoes, etc), bay leaves, cinnamon and nutmeg.

It was so good, we each had two bowls and took some home with us. We also went to meet Gelina’s grandfather, Rubin Robin, down at the bay rum distillery. It was very nice to see the whole set up and to meet him. They cook/dry bay leaves and distill the results into oil that is used in medicinal products. This is very hard work and he and the guy helping him are pure muscle and sweat.

Tomorrow, we begin to pull the best from the best of the kid’s photos. We can’t wait to see their efforts!

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Field Trips and Fire

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

We picked up the cameras at the school following the weekend shooting but didn’t find many pictures to download; we'll have to see about that in class. We have a field trip planned to Grand Bay and are hoping that the second field trip will result in more interesting pictures than the first since they've now had two weeks of class.

Later that morning we met with Gelina and the principal to discuss Friday's exhibition plans. The principal informed us she has a scheduling conflict with a church group Friday afternoon. She first told us that she might have to miss the exhibition, but when Gelina told her that the President of the country was scheduled to attend, she said she would work to change her schedule.

Only two boys showed up for class and they didn’t want to go on the field trip alone, so class was cancelled.

Unfortunately, the rest of the day didn’t get any better. We arrived home to a house filled with smoke. Seems a neighbor was illegally burning trash and the prevailing winds blew the smoke in our front door and windows.

We ended up taking the bus to Roseau and checking ourselves in to the Garraway Hotel for the night. We were thankful that they had rooms available!

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mini-Adventure to "Paradise"

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

On Saturday we set off on our own adventure, within the scope of our otherwise “Big Adventure.”

Gelina took us up into the mountains to an "eco-resort" (in quotes for more than one reason as it turns out). It was a very steep and winding drive up into the mountains; the roads are not well maintained. We could see steam rising from vents on the hillsides as the hot water from the semi-active volcano poured into the rivers.

Soon, we arrived at Paradise Island, Shangri-LA.

OK, so it wasn’t exactly paradise. On the phone, the proprietor said this was a true eco-resort, but much of the supplies were shipped in from Tennessee and Home Depot! Talk about burning fossil fuel!

The rooms were very basic; no screens, only shades. Regardless however, the best part of this place was the hot spring! And I do mean HOT springs. Some are so hot the locals cook eggs in them for breakfast (which we tried on Sunday and found to be quite good).

There were also a series of varied temperature pools along the river; most fairly warm and others warmer than a hot tub at home. The water is very high in sulfur and is quite pungent, but it does make your skin feel great.

Sitting in these pools alongside the rushing river is very cool! Barbara and I both get massages river side. We found out that we were the only guests in the place and dinner was quiet.

It was a little intimidating sleeping in these open air bungalows and it rained off, but mostly on, most of the night. It was so damp that the pillows, mattress…basically anything made of fabric stink of mustiness and mildew. We felt quite clammy in the morning.

On Sunday, breakfast was a delicious blend of local fruit and eggs boiled in the sulfur pool. Because it was still pouring down rain without much let up in site, we decided to bail out on the rest of our day there.

We called Gelina but she had gone all the way back at home, although we thought she was staying in Roseau. We were anxious enough to leave though, that we called a taxi.

Gelina ended up meeting us in Roseau, and we went on more of a driving tour of the island. We traveled down the west coast all the way to the southernmost point at Scott's Head. There is a narrow strip of land, maybe a quarter-mile long that divides the Atlantic and Caribbean. It was so neat seeing waves crashing on one side and resting calm like bay water on the other.

We also took the opportunity of being by the water to do a little swimming, but only on the Caribbean side. Back up the coast we stopped at another bay side inlet where hot water bubbled up at the shore line like Champagne Beach. We also visited a small local hot spring that had bathing tubs before we made our way back to our “home” in Grand Bay.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

Hope for the Future of "My Community"

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

With no cameras to download, we are picked up early by Gelina and head to CCF's office for real Internet service. We are told our meeting with the local photographer has been cancelled, but shortly we hear it's back on for later in the morning.

The Internet works well and we get some work accomplished. We are using a special software service that lets us literally hook-up to and use Jack's computer at home. It's helpful with all the mail and information is stored on that computer. So long as the Internet is working at the house, it works really well.

Our neighbor JoAnn who is looking after the house and mail was quite amused to see all of this computer activity going on when she happened to be there the other day!

We have a great meeting with the photographer. His name is Irvin Durand and he is the director of a local organization called Visual Arts Society of Dominica. He has been doing short workshops at various schools to get kids interested in photography and also setting up photography clubs in schools to try and keep the interest alive.

We hope he and CCF will collaborate in the future on our concept as well. Class today was short again as we go over their photo shoot ideas. We ask them to take notes on the ideas of others, but they seem more interested in their own ideas. We remind them that we are hoping to do a field trip Monday, but it may be more local than planned.

Gelina stopped by this evening and we went to look at the Old Fort, the spot they are suggesting for the exhibition in Grand Bay. We liked it and were glad to have a decision made. It is right on the main street and will be easy for a lot of folks to get to.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Learn About Dominica Through Our Eyes

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

The weather finally cooperated with us today and we got a good walk in. After a brief check of the Internet, we start downloading pictures. They are better and there has been more participation; several are actually quite good and creative!

We did loosen the rules a little and allowed someone else to take their portrait, but they still had to set up the shoot. Some of the best ones through were done as we asked, using the self timer. A few of them never seemed to have enough time to get in front of the camera without their picture being blurred.

Class was short today because we are sending them home to complete a writing assignment without the cameras. The weekend photo shoot will be “My Community,” as we asked them to come back with a list of ideas for picture taking.

We told them no snapshots of friends and just goofing around. We want to see pictures of life in their community that would tell a story or might be of interest to someone learning about Dominica through their eyes.

After class we had a meeting with the assistant principal and a few of teachers.

Apparently the school is going to host a pageant of some sort and they want our class to photograph some of the students in costume next week so they don't have to hire a professional photographer to do a promotion. Even though we were a little wary, since the cameras aren’t really suited for this type of shooting, we agreed to let the students try, even though it will take away from our planned field trip on Monday.

Tonight we were invited to a going away party for a friend of our landlady's. A good crowd from the community turned up and it was pretty lively! The atmosphere was full of food and music.

We stayed for a bit and then retreated to our side of the duplex. In the back bedroom with the computer playing a movie, it's not to disturbing. They ended somewhere around 10:30 pm, just in time for us to catch some shut-eye.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Day 11, Take 2

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

Photo credit: Rick Falco, Vision Project

Cameras are picked up about 9 a.m. with a quick check of the Internet at the school. The results as mentioned are a little disappointing. A couple of the students did not take pictures at all; some only a few. But two had some pretty good shots.

At class we discussed what went wrong. The biggest problem seemed to have been no knowing how to set up the shot. We decide to make it a little easier, requiring the students to still plan the shoot, but letting someone else take the picture.

We also got the impression they were getting a little discouraged when they were not accomplishing good photography, so first we showed them two of the best of everyone’s pictures to demonstrate that they can and are doing good work.

We also told them that some of their pictures have already been forwarded to CCF headquarters and that they are very pleased with the results. We sent them back out to try again.

Also during class we heard from Gelina that a meeting has been set up for us on Friday morning with a local photographer who is trying to run a similar program as ours on the island. We are hoping that some collaboration can possibly be arranged so our program can continue.

We’re eager to get some exercise and had planned to walk after class but the rain came and kept us in. It rains a lot here in short, but frequent downpours. I can almost watch the vegetables grow in our landlady’s garden.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Attack of the Centipedes!

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

Gelina picked us up this morning so that we could go to the CCF office to use the internet and do a little shopping. It pours and pours making it a real challenge to shop, get back to CCF and then on to the bus home. Thank goodness for flip flops!

We met with a local photographer who connects us to someone who may be able to continue the class after we leave. Gelina said she will try to set up a meeting for us with him.

We are planning to hold an exhibition for the children on Jan. 23. We plan to have posters with 5x7’s of their best shots and a slide show as well. They are exploring some different locations for it, but it will hopefully be held in the village so that more of the community can come.

The school is inviting the president of Dominica to the event, who is from Grand Bay, and who challenged CCF to do a program in Grand Bay for the children.

That afternoon, our class has several children missing. We were told that there are other commitments and classes that the kids must attend. We were a little disappointed because we thought we’d have the kid’s full attention. Now some are missing technical information, assignments and cameras to take home.

The day’s lesson was based on manual applications of the camera so they could tell the camera what to do, rather than just shooting on automatic. Their assignment is to do a self-portrait, having the camera take the picture with the built in timer, and if inside, not using the flash.

Our land lady had given us a few DVD’s to watch on the computer and we watch in the bedroom as the only other option is sitting at the kitchen room table (our “furnished” apt. has no sofa or chairs, other than kitchen table, so it’s hard to find a place to stretch out other than on the bed).

Half way through the movie, Barbara and I both get up, I go into the bathroom and she goes into the kitchen. Then, at the same time, we both start screaming, not knowing why other one is screaming themselves.

Two, VERY LARGE centipedes, about 7 inches long with about 2 million legs are in the house! They’re very wiggly and move very fast.

Our neighbor Nika (former Peace Corp volunteer) has told us that the centipedes can bite and send you to the hospital, though they are not life threatening. We are also told that the severity of the sting depends on the phase of the moon (and are relieved to observe the moon is waning!)

Needless to say, we are a bit frantic. We spray them with bug killer which seems to daze them and then we sweep them out the door. None of our neighbors are around when I try to find out a bit more about them…I (Barb) do(es) not sleep too well…

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Champagne Beach and Our First Day Solo

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

Yesterday Rick left and although we’re sad to see him go, we’re so thankful for his expertise in getting us started with the photography class.

Gelina picked us up and drove him to Loubiere where he took a taxi to the airport. She dropped us at Champagne Beach, where the bubbles come up out of the rock under the sea and it is like swimming in champagne!

The snorkeling was great and I saw my first Trumpet fish! But we didn’t see any turtles which was a disappointment. We came home on the local bus and just made it before a huge monsoon-like storm hit us.

When we first got home, we found that we’ve used up all our propane and Juliette took the tank away this morning – guess dinner will be cold tonight!

However, out of the blue, Juliette showed up with a full tank of propane and we can cook again!

Today was our first day on our own teaching without Rick and it went well. The computer and projector cooperated and the children are becoming better photographers every day.

Some are more intent upon photography than others and it is obvious in their photos. We definitely have some stars!

I’m hoarse and beat by the end of the class. The process of collecting all the cameras (the kids drop them in the vice principals office on arriving at school and we walk to the school to get them) downloading the photo’s and reviewing them, creating files and selecting their best work to review in class, takes up most of the morning.

We haul everything we needed to school in our suitcase: computer, external drive, projector, all the cameras, and then bring it all back home at the end of the class.

Tomorrow, we’re looking forward to some shopping and a discussion about continuing the Photography class after we leave Dominica.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Déjà vu and Something New

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

Today, Gelina picked us up and we went to visit the Carib Territory – these people are original Indians from the Caribbean, and this is one of the few places where the original Carib people still live. It’s similar to an Indian reservation in the States.

The people here are very poor and CCF has a large presence. Gelina was scheduled to work with a group of children on creating a radio program to be broadcast throughout the entire island. There was also a local music group scheduled to work with the kids on creating their own songs and music, but sadly they did not show up.

Gelina and Melvin, a local who has a history in broadcasting, helped the children overcome their disappointment by planning future broadcasts to include music, poetry and storytelling about their home life, their parents and what it's like to be on the radio.

Gelina was so great with the kids. We left the children to explore the Territory; Barbara and I visited 2 years ago, but this was Rick’s first time. We went to the model village and saw a bunch of women making baskets. Usually there also demonstrations of dug out boats and cassavas, but they weren’t active today, which was too bad.

We drove on through the Territory, stopping for coconut jelly; a green coconut water that’s refreshing and much loved by the locals. Barbara also bought a few baskets (of course).

We ended up having lunch at Domcans which had very nice salads and French fries for us, as well as hamburgers for Gelina and Rick. Barbara and I ate here 2 years ago with CCF staff member Gary Duncan and local director, Francis Joseph. I even remember the owner who is Canadian and very nice.

He told us he has 2 or 3 rooms to rent with very nice with views of the valley and the ocean in the distance. For a second we thought bout taking him up on his offer!

We then set off to the Emerald Pool, one of Dominica's biggest tourist attractions. The waterfall ends in a small pool and the water appears dark green. There are rocks all around the pool and it’s very slippery.

I actually slipped and fell all over the rocks! I even lost my reading glasses and my sun glasses. Thankfully I was able to climb down and find them both and the cuts from my fall aren't too bad. Back at the main entrance they had peroxide and ice which was a big help.

We headed back to Grand Bay, following the sea along to Jungle Bay. Jungle Bay is an eco-resort where we stayed on our last visit. We saw the same guide we had before and the same waiter too!

Gelina told us she sings here occasionally and knows the staff well. When she was studying in the states she actually cut a couple of CD's and is very good. We arrived home tired and hungry from a busy day. I made eggs for dinner, played a round of Liverpool rummy and crashed into bed.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Thank Goodness for Rummi-kub and Liverpool Rummy

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

Today was a great success! We have a projector that works and Jack was able to download a trial CS3 on the computer to streamline our downloading and organizing (and now he has a new program to learn!)

While in Roseau we hit two grocery stores, the street vegetable market and came home on the bus loaded down. The bus was completely PACKED. We had a little girl on her way home from school squeezed in between us and three in front of us.

They were giggling and chattering the whole way home to Grand Bay (about a 30 minute winding ride over a mountain pass). I am amazed at all the little children taking the "city" bus into town and home for school. This would not happen in the States!

We use the computer and projector in class and the kids were able to see each other's work and were encouraged to critique one another. They were a little shy at first, but got more comfortable as the day went on.

Each day is packed and busy, but if we weren’t so busy, we’d have nothing to do at all. Thank goodness for Rummi-kub and Liverpool Rummy! I brought two books, but am already on my second so I’ll have to savor it.

Juliette, our landlady, has given us some videos to watch on the computer but the choices are limited. The computer also claims the DVD’s are from a different region and we are fighting with it to view them.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Camera Update!

A brief update from Jack Clarke

Before, we said that...

"Only fourteen out of fifteen cameras were returned to us, but we’ll have to find out what happened to the missing one… "

We've located the missing camera.

One of the students, Fancille, showed up later with it at class! She had left it at home and had to go home to get it in the next village.

All is well!

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Their First Snapshots

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

First three photos credited to Rick Falco/Vision Project

Yesterday morning Jack and I went for a very long walk to Stowe and back, which took about 1 and a half hours. The road follows the Atlantic coast and it is lovely.

That afternoon was the day the kids got their cameras. It was almost like a graduation as we called their names and they came up to receive their prized camera; they were so excited!

We gave them an assignment to go home and photograph their families. There was a lot of discussion about how they would do this. We discussed taking photos of their families doing what is important to them, photos that tell something about the person.

The children are very soft spoken and their accents have a Caribbean/British lilt that is challenging to understand at times!

Georgette brought us a new projector today, but we are still having trouble. All of the prompts are in Chinese characters and so they are trying to get us a manual.

This morning we picked up the cameras at the school, download the children's first photos onto the computer and reviewed them to pick their best shots. Thankfully all the software works, but it is slow going.

Rick recommends we use CS3 (Photoshop Professional), which we do not have on this computer. We have created files for each child and all their pictures, then there are sub files of their best shots to be reviewed and discussed in class.

Fourteen out of fifteen cameras were returned to us, but we’ll have to find out what happened to the missing one…

This afternoon we went on a field trip, walking with the children into the town of Grand Bay to photograph village life. We want to show them the value of photographs taken of people “doing” their life, rather than posed shots.

It’s very challenging to keep track of all the children, keep them "focused", and taking "real photos" instead of just snapshots.

Some of the villagers like to be photographed and some do not. We have a lot of explaining to do almost every time they go to take a photo, but most villagers are OK once they learn we are with the school and teaching the kids.

We are missing two girls today, one went home sick and the other had to baby-sit her brother

The kids have taken so many photos; so many we’ll get to download and review! This will take most of the evening to do, but we finished and after one quick game of Liverpool Rummy and we are off to bed!

Tomorrow is an early day – we’re going to Roseau with Gelina to have Rick teach the CCF staff some basic photo taking skills.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Turning Words into Photographs

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

All photos credited to Rick Falco/Vision Project

Yesterday and today were both busy days! On Monday we met at the school, were introduced to all the staff and given a tour so that we may choose a room for the class (a room with a view of the sea).

Then we were off to Rosseau, CCF headquarters, with Gelina who is our primary contact here to go over more details, have lunch and walk the town. We were also able to pick up a few additional groceries.

That was the first day we had any email access and we will not have Internet in the apartment but can use the school Internet each day, Monday through Friday. However, it’s painfully slow. Gelina brought us back at the end of the day so we have not had to take the bus yet! We are all exhausted after a long day.

The heat is oppressive, and we have no A/C; only two fans to keep the air moving. The room we have for the class, however, is one of the few that does have A/C. I wonder if they would let me sleep there!

Today, we hurried to an 8 a.m. assembly and we are introduced by the vice principal and by CCF director to the entire school. I gave a speech and so did Rick; Barbara took our pictures since she is too camera shy!

We also have our first mini disaster; the overhead projector they’ve given us to use is not working properly. Rick was trying to give a presentation to half of the school and the images are all green and distorted. As a last resort, he had to use just his laptop.

That was tough viewing for a couple hundred kids on a tiny screen! We hope to get another projector tomorrow or else things will be difficult when we start having to review the kid’s pictures as a class.

So goes working in a remote place!

After lunch, which was generously provided by CCF to each child in the class and the teachers, I took pictures of each child and printed them so that we can try to remember their names.

The kids also get their first assignment: write an essay about their family and make notes of how they would photograph them. Tomorrow we will review and discuss their essays, then they will get to take the cameras home and start photographing.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Community: A Photographic Journey

By Jack and Barbara Clarke, CCF Donors and Rick Falco, President and Creative Director of Vision Project

All photos credited to Rick Falco, Vision Project

In search of an innovative way to continue giving to children associated with CCF, donors Jack and Barbara Clarke had an idea.

They decided to team up with Rick Falco, president and creative director of Vision Project, for the chance to introduce to the youth of Dominica, a fresh way to view their world…

…through the lens of a camera.

For three weeks and ten sessions, students were loaned cameras to be used as tools for visual and social research into their society. They learned everything from preparation and photography technique to the importance of documentation and editing.

My Community: A Photographic Journey gave middle and high school students in Dominica the opportunity to see all the components that make up their daily life in Dominica as a whole; to understand how their community functions on its own and as a part of the connected global society.

Here begins Day One of Jack, Barbara and Rick’s trip:

Well, we arrived yesterday without difficulty in Dominica. One missing bag arrived on the next plane much to our relief.

We were met at the airport by the CCF-Dominica Director Francis Joseph. Our first stop was the supermarket where we spent a small fortune stocking up on groceries for 3 weeks. We do not know when we will have another opportunity to get to a big store since there is not one near where we will be staying. We arrived at Grand Bay and our new home away from home at dusk.

The house has a view of the Atlantic over the rooftops of the houses below us and a view of mountains all around. There are cows in the yard behind us. The house is sparse, clean and adequate.

NO A/C, NO TV, NO Phone, NO internet.

We pay as we go for electricity and so far have paid $100 but don't know how long that will last. We also have one big surprise: NO HOT WATER!

Even in this warm climate that is a little challenging! Today we are on our own and will do a little walking and explore the village of Grand Bay. Tomorrow we meet the staff at the school.

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