Who is in your family?
Who are you closest to in your family?
Who do you care for? Who cares for you?
What are some things that symbolize family?
Who feels like family even though they may not be related to you?
These are some the questions and ideas we have been talking about over the past few weeks in the community of 12 de Junio. Transitioning from the concept of self to the concept of family, EB and I have been working on a series of family oriented workshops with girls from the community. We began these workshops about a month ago with the hopes that the girls would utilize photography and writing to document their families. The aim of these workshops is to open up dialogue about family and slowly introduce the concept that as individuals we are all part of something greater than ourselves.
Though we all have them, talking about family can be a very personal and private matter. EB and I opened up the dialogue in the workshop by first talking about our own families. We printed off family pictures and brought them to the community to share. As we passed around our photos, we talked about who was in our photos and why they are important to us. This exercise was a good way to share a little bit more about ourselves with the girls and a way to help the group feel more comfortable sharing about themselves.
After getting the conversation started, the girls began to take turns talking about their families. They talked about who was in their family, where members of their family came from, and how family members ended up migrating to the relatively new community of 12 de Junio in Lima. Following our group discussion, we began to look at different photos that EB had brought of families from around the world. EB then discussed how photographs can capture moments, tell stories, and project emotions.
To wrap-up this session and to begin the documentation process, the girls who attended the workshop then received disposable cameras and were sent home with the following activity:
Work in pairs. Each person will take 12 photos
4 photos: Of a person in your family
4 photos: without people, but with things that are symbols of your family
4 photos: whatever you would like (theme: family)
Over the following weeks it took a substantial amount of coordination, collaboration, positive reinforcement, and determination to ensure that this project came to together. After a series of trips to the community to retrieve the cameras and multiple visits to the local camera shop, all of the family photos have now been developed! It was so exciting to see the what the pictures revealed and to listen to the girls explain who/what was in their photos. The past two weeks have been spent revealing the developed photos to the group and each girl completing a small writing exercise about the pictures that were taken. We asked the girls to choose three photos and then write (1) a small description of who/what is in the photo (2) how the photo describes or represents their family (3) How they feel about the photo and why.
Here are some of the marvelous, creative pictures they have allowed us to share.
Fotos de Jezabeth:
Fotos de Stefany:
This project of course made reflect upon my own family and how lucky I am to have such incredible people in my life. Always understanding and willing to listen, my family has supported my many different endeavors in life. They encouraged me to come to Peru, and I absolutely would not be here without their ongoing love, support, and guidance. Love you all.
Well, my eyes are full of stars
But I just can't reach 'em... oh, how high they are
I gotta believe what I'm seeing - maybe it could come true
But in a modern world that can be so hard to do
I feel so homesick
Where's my home
Where I belong or
Where I was born
I was taught to go
Where the wind would blow
And it blows away -
As I was writing this post, I could not help but think of one of my favorite songs by the Alabama Shakes. To me, the lyrics touch on following your dreams, which can sometimes lead us to travel far from home (and family).The song also makes one think of how they define home, which parallels the process we took in the workshops of challenging the girls to think of how they define family.