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Through the camera's lens

Victoria students become global citizens through photo exhibit
World Vision
Harry Shaw stands with his favorite photo taken by a child in Honduras. Shaw chose this photo because he says it reminds him how much they need our help. The Grade 5 students at St Michael’s University junior school participated in a photo exchange that was part of a project through World Vision.

For students at St. Michaels University junior school, finding out how their peers in developing countries live turned out to be just a camera click away.

With cameras in hand, the Grade 5 students recently photographed what they value most. At the resulting photography exhibit, there were snapshots of parents, pets, siblings, their Oak Bay school and favourite hobbies.

In contrast, photographs snapped by children in Honduras and Ethiopia were also exhibited, showing very different realities: pack mules trudging along the road, a kid standing in a dirt patch clutching a soccer ball, mothers with babies on their backs or metal containers on their heads, and flimsy shacks that serve as home.

"They've been given so much perspective," said Alicia Pereira, spokesperson for World Vision which asked St. Michaels to take on the inaugural project. The school has helped raise funds for the Christian relief organization in the past.

The exhibit, See What I See, coincides with World Vision's goal to have 2,000 needy children sponsored by the end of March.

The life lesson was not lost on students Alice Lee and her two partners, Harry Shaw and Sara Perelmuter. They proudly showcased photos of their treasures: a violin, soccer net and art book.

"I thought it would be important to see how other kids lived their lives compared to us, and how we need to help them," said Shaw, 11, who chose to illustrate soccer, his favourite activity.

"I was surprised and amazed at how little they had," said 10-year-old Perelmuter, who snapped a shot of her art book and supplies, which she says inspires her to be creative. 

"We have a lot to be thankful for," agreed Lee, 10, who showcased her violin. 

The project tied in nicely with the school's leadership program which teaches sustainability, global awareness, leadership and service.

"This (photography exhibit) is a building block for them," said leadership teacher Kathleen Cook.

"We don't want them to feel bad about what they have," Pereira said of the Grade 5s. "It's an out-of-school experience (in which) they become almost like global citizens.

"They can understand what it's like in another kid's shoes, seeing what life is like through the lens."