Students come to Brazil
A huge mass of Soka University students will visit Brazil next month to see what will happen when they will provide the rural Brazilian teenagers the opportunity to stand behind a lens. A group of 12 students along with their guide and Professor Ian Read will travel for 12 hours on the rural highways to reach the impoverished town of Vale do Jeguitinhonha in the state of Minas Gerais in southeastern part of Brazil.
They will reach the destination to work with the NGO Child Fund Brazil and also they will work with their democratic photography program called Olhares em Foco. The main purpose of the program is to display the effects of stratification – social, cultural and economic –via pictures clicked by the adolescent youth in that community.
Highly inspired by the award winning documentary “Born into Brothels” where a photographer gives cameras to the kids in Calcutta’s red light area, the Soka students exactly want to witness what art can actually do to change the views of the children who are born and bought up in such areas.
The Soka students will alleviate workshops and will teach the teens different types of photographic techniques as well as themes like life history and portraiture. 19 year old student Cassie Calhoun said that what he is trying to learn or gain from this experience is a better understanding of Brazilian culture and also the effects of poverty on community. She added that she just want to positively influence the youth.
In terms of human development, the Vale do Jeguitinhonha stood amongst the lowest municipalities in Brazil. Compared to the other parts of Brazil, the village has not had opportunities for wealth and the surrounding arid conditions make it less desirable. The students of Soka University will live with the families who will be meeting foreigners for the first time. The students will also get the chance to spend two days of their trip in Rio de Janeiro’s shanty towns where the past students will volunteer to find out the differences between urban poverty and rural town.
The students received a grant of $17,000 from the Linda and Luis Nieves Family Foundation for this particular trip.