Today marks one week since returning to life sans chicken buses, one hundred degree temperatures, four dollar coffees, regular routines, drinkable tap, toilet paper that goes into the toilet, and your regular assortment of first world problems (like not yet having internet at the house you just moved into). One month working with these kids was simply not enough, but I’ll take what I had, and feel compelled to pay forward my gratitude to everyone that helped me make the project a success. Success is an arbitrary term in this instance. To be quite blunt, most of the photos are quite less than astonishing. I’m still going through the negatives (the kids kept all their prints), and there are some gems, but most are rather mundane snapshots of the children with their friends. No artistic virtuosos were discovered in the short span of a month, and no gallery is going to beg me to show the more prominent images, which I do plan to compile and show on this blog in short time. That said, there is not an ounce of disappointment in how things proceeded. The kids had an AMAZING time with the project – most had never used a camera other than the cheap cell phone cameras (which only a few of the oldest boys possessed), and all were ecstatic when they got their prints back. The cameras quickly became a bargaining chip to get the kids to pay attention during the English classes we were teaching, and all the younger children who weren’t part of the project incessantly whimpered and begged me to include them in the camera class (wasn’t easy to say ‘Tal vez cuando tenga mas edád’). Since there were four extra cameras in the end, the last week was a photo contest in which the person with the ‘best’ photo won the remaining cameras. That turned into a tough-to-decide four way draw, with two girls and two boys each getting a camera, respectively. After all the cameras and prints had been doled out, I found that I still had some additional funds, so on my last day with the kids I arranged two shuttles to pick them up from the school and bring them to Antigua, where we visited the art galleries within the Spanish embassy. This was particularly special, as many of the kids had never been to Antigua, despite living only about 30 miles away. After we left the galleries (where we were given a spontaneous private tour by a very friendly woman there!) we gorged ourselves on ice cream and banana bread, the kids descended on a coffee dispenser in a nearby building, and we all said our goodbyes. Please feel free to watch the video below, which includes our ‘field trip’ to Antigua. In finale, thanks again to everyone that donated, thanks to Ricardo Armas who created the program, and thanks to the kids for making this guy feel like a million bucks.
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