Lauren Brenner traveled to the Yucatan to work with the Chiapas Photography Project, a collective of Mayan photographers who use photographic technology to preserve their traditions and increase literacy. As part of her photographic project, she collaborated with one of the most active photographers in the collective, Xunka’ Lopez Dias. Brenner’s trip was also an exchange of culture and service: she helped the Mayan photographers transition to using digital photography by teaching classes, designing a digital darkroom, and creating a digital archive, and in return, she received language education in Yucatec Mayan.
Kate Gonsiewski spent the summer in Toms River, New Jersey, where she interviewed and made color photographs of teachers at Toms River High School South. By combining photography and writing, she created portraits that specifically explore who these teachers have become as a result of dedicating themselves to educating others. She also documented the ways in which some of the high school’s former teachers’ lives have changed in retirement. Gonsiewski says, “I hope to draw up on the unique strengths of each medium in terms of what can be revealed about a person’s life, history, and personality.”
Chamindra Goonewardene's video project focuses on the impact of the tsunami that struck the shores of Sri Lanka in 2005, killing close to 40,000 people and displacing close to a million more. His aim is to highlight the plight of tsunami survivors in the southern region of the country. According to Goonewardene, these communities are struggling because of a lack of attention from the government and the international community, and due to the effects of an ongoing war in the northern part of the country. “As a Sri Lankan," Goonewardene writes, "I believe that I am in a unique position to be able to convey this message.” Goonewardene recruited local youth to help him conduct and transcribe interviews, collect data for a development plan for their communities, and facilitate connections between these rural communities and organizations with resources.
Sylvia Qu spent the summer working as a photographer and intern with the Estacion Ecologica de San Rafael (ECOSARA), a non-profit ecological station located within Paraguay’s San Rafael National Park, a 173,000-acre stretch of land known for its richness in biodiversity. The park is home to countless species of flora and fauna, several of which currently face a future of extinction. As Qu points out, while many recognize the necessity of land conservation, “forest integrity continues to be threatened by illegal logging, poaching, and the cultivation of illicit crops.” She hopes that her documentary “will provide an enormous boost for conservation efforts by generating both national and international awareness and concern.”
Marissa Seuc is developing a multimedia documentary about her family’s immigration story, and the "concentric circles of transnational identity, familial struggle, and political division" that surround it. In January 2007, Seuc traveled to Havana, Cuba, becoming the first person in her father’s family to return to Cuba since they left in 1961. Since that visit, she has been motivated to document family members’ stories. In her interviews she asked them, “What was life in Cuba like before Castro? What motivated you to leave? What motivated others to stay? How did immigration become a reality? What was it like starting over? Have you ever returned to Cuba? What do you think of the situation in Cuba right now?” She discovered, “as for so many others, the tensions and intricacies surrounding my family history, as well as our proximity to Cuba’s still-divisive political struggle, make for a complex and gripping story.”