I’ve been a terrible (largely absent) blogger over the course of this fellowship, but it is not for a lack of things to say. In fact, quite the opposite. My experience in the last 6 months inspired so much thinking and searching and obsessing and turning things over in my head; it often left me with too many words and feeling a bit stuck on how to express myself in that succinct, entertaining style one expects from a blog post. However, dear readers, in particular those of you who may be thinking of applying to be a Fellow next year (check out our Fellow Experience video!), I hope you will excuse my tardiness and accept this series of #laterblogs.
To start, let me share a video made by a group of children in Vikravandi, Tamil Nadu, where we were invited by our partners, Communities Rising, to lead a week-long workshop. The students were between 7 and 13 years old – though by the end of the week, there were definitely a couple of 5 year olds hanging around as well – who visit the local community center, SAMSS. When we first walked into the center, many of the children were sat at the computers, engrossed in the joys of Microsoft Paint. They showed off those tech skills in how quickly they learned to use the Kodak cameras we brought with us. Living in an agricultural area, the Vikravandi kids deeply value the nature that surrounds them. It plays a significant role in their lives. Their project, it was decided, would be about this topic. The children had so much community knowledge, generational knowledge: from which plants can help cure jaundice to what a pomegranate tree looks like! It was such fun watching them run around trying to capture all the diversity in their neighborhood, with older children helping out the younger ones. Together they wrote scripts, took photos and video, and even partially edited this immersive, adorable (just look at that face!) video. A word of caution: Be prepared to have a very unique song about trees stuck in your head for some time.