HIGH SCHOOLERS LEAD SNAPSHOT PROJECT TO BANGLADESH

 100cameras Snapshot Dhaka students pass through bustling streets on their way to school, Nuru Chala neighborhood.

100cameras Snapshot Dhaka students pass through bustling streets on their way to school, Nuru Chala neighborhood.

As a young girl of Bangladeshi heritage, high school junior, Sumaiya Haque, first remembers appreciating the value and importance of storytelling from her grandmother -- whose concept of a bedtime story revolved around accounts of war-life and poverty or having to navigate the difficulties that can come along with raising nine children in the midst of the independence war. It was through her grandmother's commitment to sharing her perspective and brave life experiences that Sumaiya credits how much she has already learned about hard-work, discipline, and the fact that we are each in control of our own future at such a young age. 

 Snapshot Project Leader, Sumaiya, takes a selfie with students.

Snapshot Project Leader, Sumaiya, takes a selfie with students.

Now about to graduate high school in McLean, Virginia USA and deeply aware of her innate connection to the Bangladeshi culture and language, Sumaiya's desire to uncover the unheard voices of her ancestors and to empower the overlooked youth in the country during recent current events ultimately led her to spearhead a Snapshot Project in the city of Dhaka, Bangladesh. 

But not without first motivating an entire team of talented and passionate high school colleagues to join her.

 Girls help one another through flooded school courtyard, Nuru Chala Primary School.

Girls help one another through flooded school courtyard, Nuru Chala Primary School.

With photography being one of her favorite subjects in school combined with the gift of learning new perspectives through travel, Sumaiya has spent much time reflecting on her role as a photographer as well as the role perspective plays in photography. Looking back at her photos from a specific trip to a remote village in Mexico last year, she couldn't help but feel like she was an outsider in the community, and that it was not necessarily her story to tell. And thought to herself,

"What if the people in the village could photograph themselves and their own culture. It would reveal a hidden perspective, since the way I view their community is different from the way they might view it."
 Students practice using cameras for the first time! Lesson 1 scavenger hunt.

Students practice using cameras for the first time! Lesson 1 scavenger hunt.

Upon sharing these thoughts with her high school photography teacher, Amanda Archibald, they began to dream up a summer service trip to teach children in developing countries how to use photography to share their own stories. Through research, they found and applied to our Snapshot Project Platform, and immediately upon acceptance, Sumaiya began reaching out to her local high school networks to build out her dream team. Planning quickly went underway, and the group departed together earlier this month to Bangladesh. 

 From left to right, the  100cameras Snapshot Dhaka  team: Sophie Howery (sophomore at McLean High School), Mehran Sajjad (junior at Thomas Jefferson High School), Sumaiya Haque (junior at Langley High School), Ananya Amirthalingam (junior at Langley High School), and Andrew Kim, project filmmaker, at the top (junior at Thomas Jefferson High School). Not pictured: Photography Teacher, Amanda Archibald

From left to right, the 100cameras Snapshot Dhaka team: Sophie Howery (sophomore at McLean High School), Mehran Sajjad (junior at Thomas Jefferson High School), Sumaiya Haque (junior at Langley High School), Ananya Amirthalingam (junior at Langley High School), and Andrew Kim, project filmmaker, at the top (junior at Thomas Jefferson High School). Not pictured: Photography Teacher, Amanda Archibald

Through a partnership with local based organization, Teach for Bangladesh, a nonprofit that trains fellows to teach in government-run primary schools, the Snapshot team has received great support on the ground to navigate the complicated structures of the local education system accompanied by the obstacles that arise from monsoon season in order to empower students to process and tell their stories in a way that impacts how they view themselves and their role in their community. 

 100cameras Snapshot Dhaka students practice camera skills during photo drills, Nuru Chala neighborhood.

100cameras Snapshot Dhaka students practice camera skills during photo drills, Nuru Chala neighborhood.

The Inspiring 100cameras Students

As children of migrant workers, the families of the students of 100cameras Snapshot Dhaka are from remote villages but migrate to the city to work in factory and construction jobs.  Therefore, the children live in low-income housing and have to walk distances to get to their school while overcoming a variety of difficulties to pursue their education.

Physically, these difficulties include such examples as journeying through a trail of pollution and large piles of deserted trash, needing to leave school to take care of their families because accidents are common in the busy city, lacking access to basic humanitarian needs at times, or furthermore, during monsoon season, their schools flood up to their knees actually preventing them from attendance.

Culturally speaking, this specific group of students is living within a system that does not place importance on self-expression, self-worth, or extracurricular activities mostly in part to their socio-economic status. As kids have shared through our program experience, they are often told on a daily basis that because they come from underprivileged families, they will not be able to achieve their dreams and make a difference in their communities.

It is because of these difficult circumstances that it's been important to teach, empower, and encourage the kids to process what they have been through and to remain optimistic and grateful for what they do have and to focus on their role in their own future. 

100cameras Snapshot Dhaka wraps up this Friday with an exhibition being held in their community to celebrate their stories, accomplishments, and perseverance above all else. Follow along on social to see more behind the scenes from this incredible project as well receive notification when the students' online gallery will be published and for sale. 

 Mehran covers camera settings with her group, taken in one of the students’ family home in the Nuru Chala neighborhood.

Mehran covers camera settings with her group, taken in one of the students’ family home in the Nuru Chala neighborhood.

Want to learn more about how you can directly support this team, check out their webpage here.  

 Students taking pictures for the Lesson 1 scavenger hunt, Nuru Chala neighborhood of Dhaka.

Students taking pictures for the Lesson 1 scavenger hunt, Nuru Chala neighborhood of Dhaka.

 Andrew shows students his documentary video in a Nuru Chala Primary School Classroom.

Andrew shows students his documentary video in a Nuru Chala Primary School Classroom.