International Photography: Central and Eastern Europe
Here are a few images from Leslie’s and my recent trip to Central and Eastern Europe for World Learning.
Our first stop was Switzerland.
We were here to cover World Learning's work with college students and in international development. And eat chocolate in our spare time.
Prague, in the Czech Republic, and the base for the Arts and Social Change program. If you haven't been, you may want to put it on your list.
Many of the places we visited had a castle or fortress that looked over the town. How cool to have a town fortress?! Here, a new moon rises over Prague's castle.
Prague is a natural choice for the Arts and Social Change program, as it is filled with art, artists, and galleries. Kind of the Brattleboro of the Czech Republic.
A ceramic bowl crafted by one of the students for their Independent Study Project.
On a visit to the Museum of Prohibited Literature, students learn how writer's published their books during the Communist occupation.
It was amazing for the students to be able to touch and look through the actual books. The author's weren't seeking to foment revolution. They were simply trying to do their art by writing novels.
Students in the Peace and Conflict Studies in the Balkans program visiting Srebrenica (pronounced Sreh bren EATsa). This image was made by my invaluable assistant (and wife) Leslie. Srebrenica is a small town in a beautiful part of Serbia, and the site of the largest genocide since the Holocaust. Nearly 8,000 Bosnian men and boys were killed by Bosnian Serbs over the course of three days.
Hasan, one of the few who escaped, points out where he ran into the woods. He lost his twin brother, father, uncles, and cousins in the genocide.
A student sees herself in one of the photographs in the Srenbrenica museum.
One of the most amazing conversations of the trip, about the incredible patience required in addressing long-term problems. Nikica, the students' language teacher, processes the Srenbrenica visit with students on the bus trip to Belgrade.
Nenad, the assistant program director, was totally great with the students and a good friend to us. He left a lucrative job as an electrical engineer in order to work with students.
Program Director Orli Fridman leads a class discussion. Orli was born and raised in Israel, and has a passion for reconciliation and understanding between people.
I never knew this, but a significant—and important—portion of World Learning's work takes place through its International Development and Exchange Program. Gordana, who studied in the United States for a year on an IDEP scholarship, shows us the research she is conducting on reducing sediment in water.
Nikola, who studied entrepreneurship while in the U.S., now runs a company that provides aerial videography. Using a small radio-controlled helicopter he developed, Nikola is able to provide sophisticated aerial analysis for a fraction of the cost of using a standard plane or helicopter. Very cool stuff.
Another alum of IDEP's college year in the United States, Ksenija is a gifted musician who hopes to return to the U.S. for her master's. Many students get their first impressions of the United States from U.S. TV shows. Having a chance to meet U. S. students and study in a place like the University of North Dakota in Fargo really changes their opinion of America and Americans—in a good way.
Pavel uses the microbiology skills he learned in the U.S. to lead the six labs that comprise Serbia's national food administration, testing imported foods before they go on the market. He is 27 years old.
Petra studied journalism in the United States and is now working for Vreme, Serbia's leading weekly news magazine. Her editor told us, "One day, she will have my job!"
Macedonia was one of my favorite places. It's a complex, hopeful, two steps forward one step back kind of place. The new Supreme Court building is representative of a building spree in Skopje (pronounced SCOPE yah), Macedonia's capital. The many new buildings and monuments, being built while the country is experiencing a 30% unemployment rate, are somewhat controversial.
One of many government commissioned statues. Many locals wonder if the money could be better spent.
World Learning has been working with the Macedonians to improve their educational system. Here, a school inspector evaluates a class.
A third grade English class. When we were leaving the class, the inspector asked the students if they could count to ten for the American photographer. They were up to 24 and still going when we closed the door on our way out.
With a 30% unemployment rate, 70% of Macedonian students attend vocational school to learn a specific trade. World Learning is working with the vocational schools to update their curriculum to train students for the jobs of the future.
I taught a photographic workshop to Association of Macedonian Journalists photographers during my stay. Here we're talking about images they took on a "Photo Safari" in Skopje's main square. We enjoyed each other so much that we got together after work the next day for a Beer Safari.
What better way to end a blog than with a piece of chocolate cake. Especially the cake at Mortimer's in Geneva. The next time you're there, definitely check it out.
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