Usaquen and Lots of Questionsprint story
August 27, 2012
After about a week and a half of teaching my photography workshop, I was more than excited to take my students on a real fieldtrip. At the suggestion of my co-leader, we chose to take our 12 students to a place in Bogota called Usaquen. The area called Usaquen is the remnants of a very small town which was later incorporated into the city. The streets are full of old colonial style houses and it is the home to one of the city's most well known artesan markets. On our trip, we also planned on visiting a quaint church in the vicinity. On the day of the trip, not even the overcast and rain could ruin my mood. As we boarded the van that was to take us to our destination, the vehicle was full of song and laughter.
Although my students were nothing but overjoyed to be out on the field trip, I could not help but notice the stares we garnered and felt immediately overprotective of all of them. In preparing for the trip, we considered food, comfort, and efficiency yet we had forgotten to talk about what choosing this particular setting meant. To have travelled from a neighborhood with scant resources to such a tourist attraction meant more than merely visiting a nice area. As I overheard our students contemplating why their neighborhood was not like this one or how they would much rather live there, I began to wonder if we had made a grave mistake.
On the bus ride back, we attemted to incorporate what we had already learned about visual literacy and communication to our experience of Usaquen. Back at the classroom, we flipped through everyone's photographs and dissected the different messages we all got. In hearing their thoughts, I began to see that the situation was a lot more complicated than my initial concerns. Mostly, I began to understand that given my students histories, their connection to where they lived was not as strong as say someone who had been born and raised in the neighborhood. Furthermore, as we pushed them to think critically of what had just happened, I realized that their idea of Usaquen was not as idealized as I had feared.
In the end, it was the trip proved to be a fruitful experience both in terms of seeing what I had taught my students in practice and for understanding more the complexities at play when working with displaced peoples.
Please log in to post a comment!