Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Aspiring Student, Humana People to People India, Rajasthan, India, One Crisp Morning, November, 2009
She and her friends stand to my right in an open field, shivering in the coolness of the morning. The sun has yet to rise behind us and their breathing is clearly visible in the air. They are remarkably happy even though we have gathered them here in the cold.
Last year we arrived in their village during the middle of the day, making it almost impossible for me to make their portraits in my style. We ended up having fun in an alley using a reflector and delivered pictures to them regardless.
This time around I make sure to arrive before the sun rises, to gather them from their homes and to arrange for a chair for them to stand upon. We ask for the older girls to go first, saving the purest of light for the younger students. One by one they stand in front of me at first, then the younger students are asked to stand upon the chair.
My translator is a wonderful new teacher from the south of India and speaks only English. Here I am asking her to translate for me when the language of the girls is just as foreign to her. She does her best and basically does what I would do, translate with smiles and hand gestures. It is clear to me that the local girls see me and the new teacher through a most comical prism regarding our communication skills.
Humana People to People India works in this village, has a school for girls and a club for farmers, as well as a micro-loan system for use by the women. The villagers are extremely accommodating and allow us to work in peace. A few times men walk over and watch our work, and every single time we ask them nicely to move aside so as to let the girls be themselves.
Rather than hurrying their friends, each of the girls is happy to see her friends up on the chair. They laugh and giggle when their friends make certain expressions. The biggest reaction is reserved for the teacher, and the students enjoy her time in the sun immensely. She is asked to smile by me, to raise her head and to smile once again, just like her students. The girls eat it up and savor their teacher being treated equally.
The school is now closed and we are hoping that funding will arrive to reopen it. Should you, the reader, find it within yourself to offer your thoughts we will certainly be listening. You may leave a post or contact me through the information below.