A group of young Iraqi and Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, as well as local Jordanian youth whose lives have been affected by the influx of refugees into their country, will have the opportunity to document their lives and experiences with internationally acclaimed photographers Reza and Ed Kashi this month during National Geographic Photo Camp Jordan. From Monday, June 15, through Wednesday, June 24, 60 students will take part in workshops where they will learn about self-expression through photographic vision and technique. The Photo Camp is presented in partnership with the International Medical Corps, through a grant from Australian Aid.
During the first of three sessions, June 15-17, at the Child and Family Protection Center in Irbid, Jordan, 20 teenagers aged 12-19 will create stories of their experiences of displacement, resettlement and other life disruptions using photographs and written words under the guidance of the Photo Camp staff. Similar sessions will follow on June 19-21 and June 22-24 with 40 other young refugees and Jordanian teens at the Jordan River Foundation in Amman.
Reza and Kashi, along with Jordanian photographers Nasser Majali and Mohammad Hannon, will teach students how to describe their personal world and create self-portraits by exploring the world through the lens of a camera. Individual sessions with International Medical Corps mental health staff will allow the children to unlock painful experiences and help in addressing their emotional needs. By using photography as a catalyst for discussion, the Photo Camp will encourage self-expression and awareness among the young refugees and Jordanians, all of whom have felt the strain of the displacement on their communities.
“Photo Camp can give these young people, who have been uprooted or experienced turmoil, strain and hardship, the voice and the opportunity to explore the current state of their lives,” said Terry Garcia, National Geographic’s executive vice president, Mission Programs. “We are honored to be part of this endeavor.”
“International Medical Corps is delighted to partner with National Geographic once again,” said Nancy Aossey, president and CEO of International Medical Corps. “As an organization with years of experience implementing art therapy programs to help in the long-term recovery of conflict-affected populations, we recognize that Photo Camp Jordan is a tremendous opportunity for the children and for the world to see their stories.”
The students’ work will be presented in an exhibit on June 26 at the Queen Rania Center in East Amman, followed by a graduation ceremony. This final presentation aims to draw attention to youth perspectives of living as a refugee in today’s world and the challenges that their generation faces.
This is the second collaboration between National Geographic and International Medical Corps. In November 2006 they implemented Photo Camp Uganda for child refugees from Rwanda, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, with subsequent exhibits of their photographs in cities around the world, including London, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Cameras for National Geographic Photo Camp 2009 will be provided by Olympus Imaging America Inc. PNY Technologies will provide memory cards.
Reza, one of the best-known photojournalists in the world, has been documenting global strife and conflict since the 1970s as a contributor to Time, Newsweek and National Geographic magazines. His photography has earned him multiple illustrious international awards, including the Hope Award and public service and humanitarian awards in France and Spain.
Kashi, a freelance photographer since 1979, travels the world capturing images of ordinary life in extraordinary communities. A photojournalist, filmmaker and educator, he has been internationally recognized for his work on the social and political issues that define our times. He has produced 17 stories for National Geographic, most recently “Forgotten Faithful: Arab Christians” in June 2009.
National Geographic Photo Camp has provided programs for more than 850 young people in over 40 locations since 2003. Photo Camps will also be held this year in Botswana; Olympic National Park, Seattle; Pine Ridge Native American Reservation, S.D.; and national marine sanctuaries in Florida and California. Visit nationalgeographic.com/photocamp for more information.
The National Geographic Society is one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. It reaches more than 360 million people worldwide each month through its official journal, National Geographic, and other magazines; National Geographic Channel; television documentaries; music; radio; films; books; DVDs; maps; exhibitions; live events; school publishing programs; interactive media; and merchandise. National Geographic has funded more than 9,000 scientific research, conservation and exploration projects and supports an education program promoting geographic literacy. For more information, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.