Today, I sent out an e-mail to a somewhat random selection of my family and friends soliciting donations for the Literacy Through Photography (LTP) project that I'll be working on this summer in Arusha, Tanzania. Once again I have been reminded that my friends and family are absolutely amazing, and it's looking like I'll be able to buy a lot of extra film, cameras, markers, etc etc to take to Arusha. That will make a huge difference, as we already know that some of our main limitations are going to be resources-based. If anyone didn't get that e-mail and would like to make a contribution, feel free to get in touch with me.
Also today, I went on what was probably the most expensive but necessary shopping spree of my entire life. I bought a few things for Tanzania, but mostly stuff for Costa Rica - hiking backpack, ultra-compressible sleeping bag, headlamp, Swiss army knife, dry-fit clothing... you get the idea. Despite the fact that I spent a painful amount of money, I'm not done yet. Preparing for seven months of travel is intense and expensive, but so far I'm having a lot of fun. In my experience, the fact that you're about to embark on some amazing trip doesn't sink in until you start buying and packing. My main worry right now is wondering how I'm going to fit everything into one suitcase for Tanzania. I'm carrying two large-ish laptops to Arusha to help with a project completely unrelated to my own as well as a good deal of supplies for LTP... thus, I've already resigned myself to paying the overweight baggage fee. Life goes on.
The other preparation activity that's occupying my time is my somewhat pathetic attempt to learn Swahili. I purchased the Rosetta Stone software for Swahili, and my plan is to spend a good chunk of time on it every day before I leave. I'm definitely learning a lot, but I'm also pretty confused. There is a disproportionate amount of m's and w's in Swahili (at least in my English-minded opinion), and from what I've gathered you can make at least some verbs plural by sticking a "w" at the beginning of them. Msichana anaruka. The girl jumps. Wasichana wanaruka. The girls jump. Or something like that.
I'm going to close this by tacking on a few paragraphs of a letter that one of the girls on the LTP project wrote for our fundraising letter, so that any of you who want to can get a better idea of what LTP is. Kwaheri! (I think that means goodbye... maybe.)
A little bit about LTP, courtesy of Kaitlin:
LTP is an innovative arts and education program that artist Wendy Ewald developed in 1989 in collaboration with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and the Durham Public Schools. LTP challenges children to explore their world as they photograph scenes from their lives and use their images as catalysts for verbal and written expression. This program has been hugely successful. LTP promotes an expansive use of photography across different curricula and disciplines, building on the information that children naturally possess and connecting them with broader perspectives and ways of communicating. Students furthermore gain new ways of viewing themselves and their communities.
Since 1992, LTP has offered workshops in Durham, attended by artists, photographers, and educators from across the United States and abroad. In 2004, as part of their cultural and educational exchange program, Sister Cities of Durham sponsored the participation of two Tanzanian teachers in a Durham LTP workshop. After returning to Tanzania and creating preliminary LTP projects in their schools, these teachers, along with the NGO Friends of Arusha (the Tanzanian counterpart to Sister Cities of Durham) and the Ministry of Education, invited LTP to provide training in Arusha for 40 elementary school teachers—one teacher from each school in the district. Wendy Ewald and Katie Hyde of Duke University successfully directed this workshop last summer. Teachers recognized the link between LTP and comprehension, composition writing, and improving students’ awareness and ability to explain the world around them.
This summer we will collaborate with teachers in Arusha as we continue to build a local LTP program. In addition to assisting teachers in their classrooms, our group will develop a teacher resource center to provide teachers with supplies such as cameras, film, sample photographs, and books.