Armed with a handful of digital cameras and boundless enthusiasm, Rosalind Worcester '11 is crossing the globe in the name of art. After spending a summer in Nepal teaching photography to school-aged children, she is bringing the same project home to the Midcoast area.
This fall, Worcester will be collaborating with fourth graders at Woodside Elementary in Topsham, Maine to teach a photography curriculum based on community and cultural awareness.
Worcester, a government & legal studies major and teaching minor, is continuing in the steps of Sam Modest '09 and Aspen Gavenus '09, who began the Woodside program with a fifth grade class during the 2007-08 academic year.
The method of the project is simple: Worcester brings twenty cameras to the classroom and shows students the ropes of digital color photography. From there, the students complete a number of projects based on self-exploratoration and cultural themes.
"We want the projects to help create a valuable cultural exchange that goes along with images," explained Worcester.
A typical assignment might encompass themes of self-portraiture, ideas of home and community.
The project, which will make a weekly appearance in the classroom of Lisa Walling at Woodside, will culminate in a final "day in the life" project during which the students take the cameras home.
"One of my goals is to be able to have students understand that photographs can be something other than just snapshots," said Worcester.
The photography lesson doesn't end there, however.
Worcester, along with Modest, is introducing the element of cultural exchange on a global level through the program.
Modest is currently in Darjeeling, India, where he has launched a similar service learning project with the help of a seed grant from the non-profit Omprakash Foundation. Modest, who was unavailable for comment, purchased several digital cameras with the grant and is teaching a curriculum similar to Worcester's.
Modest will return to the United States at the end of October, where he will collaborate with Worcester and her fourth graders to produce a final show celebrating the photographs of both the Woodside and Darjeeling groups.
This visual communication between cultures, says Worcester, is the heart of her mission.
Worcester said she hopes that the ultimate project will be "a fusion of many different kinds of communities."
The aim of the final show, as well as the Darjeeling and Woodside projects themselves, is to encourage young people to look beyond, as well as within, their respective communities.
"Both Sam's project and my project have a common goal of learning new perspectives, learning photography and sharing photography," she said. "So much is connected to the resultant images."
Worcester will launch the project next week.