It is easy to forget the power of a snapshot. For a reminder, take a look at the Students of Mukono (Uganda) exhibition now on display at the Robert H.N. Ho Science Center.
The photos of elementary-school students with matching red-checked uniforms and sheepish smiles were taken by the group of Benton Scholars that traveled to Uganda in 2012. The photo effort was an idea of Viktor Mak ’15, and the works were compiled for exhibition by Elma Hajric ’15. Many of the children pictured had never been photographed before.
“We live in a society where everything is visually documented, but rampant poverty prevents most Ugandans from engaging with their pasts in the form of photographs,” Mak said. “Without access to photographs, memories fade.”
Led by Associate Professor of Geography Peter Scull, Associate Professor of Biology Frank Frey, and Political Science Professor Tim Byrnes, the students’ primary goal was to conduct water tests and household sanitation surveys with Bwindi Community Hospital. But in the off hours, many of the students struck out on their own.
Mak spent afternoons taking pictures and printing them out for anyone who would stand still. First he took pictures of a local soccer team, then the students at Mukono Primary School, and finally new mothers in the hospital maternity ward. Hajric, who interviewed students and staff at the school, said it was important to her to share their experience with the campus community. “I interviewed a number of students as well, to get cultural insight on what their daily lives were like, and their thoughts and perspectives on the U.S. and our culture. The exhibit is meant to bring a little piece of Uganda back to Colgate.”
The exhibition includes drawings of gorillas with brightly-colored trees and pastel skies created by Mukono students, which Hajric is selling to raise funds that will be delivered to the school on Colgate’s next extended study trip to Uganda in May. While there is no set fundraising goal, Hajric said even small donations can help.
“Just $100 is enough to cover the school attendance fees, uniforms, books, and even medical insurance for one student for a full year,” Hajric said.
President Jeffrey Herbst, who was able to join the group for part of the trip, said globalization is often misconstrued only as the U.S. having an impact on smaller countries, but the opposite is just as true.
“When we interact with people from other regions of the world, especially regions that are markedly different than our own, we leave a trace of course, but they also affect us in many different ways,” Herbst said. “This experience, not only the academic experience, but the very personal experience of getting to know the people in the region, has had a profoundly good effect on students, and is something they will carry for many years after Colgate.”
Pictures are still available for purchase, and the group is taking donations until the end of the semester. Contact Hajric (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Mak (email@example.com) for more information.