A New Vista for Children, a campaign first launched in November 2011 by The Alliance Cultural Foundation (ACF) is in its fourth year running. With smartphone and tablet cameras substituting the digital camera, it encourages people from across the country to donate their unused cameras to children from rural and remote communities of Hualien and Taitung (Huatung) to learn to capture moments of their childhood, and to foster the ability to observe their surrounding through the lens of a camera. The campaign brings together photography professionals from different regions of Taiwan to volunteer in Huatung schools to conduct photography as an extracurricular lesson.
ACF’s long-term goal for the campaign is to not only bring children joy and a new set of skills/hobby, but for schools to continue the program, eventually, without the presence of its volunteer photography teachers. In the campaign’s first phase, the first and second year, over 4,000 cameras were donated. With these cameras, 65 volunteer teachers committed four days to 107 of Huatung schools and taught students photography.
In the second phase, with 140 new digital cameras donated by Industrial Bank of Taiwan, 16 volunteer teachers committed to seven ACF selected schools teaching the knowhow of photography as an official extracurricular program. For one semester, weekly and bi-weekly, while children learned, school teachers watched. As the project matured, three other schools adopted photography into its curriculum in the campaign’s third year.
In 2015, the campaign’s third phase, ACF organizes “teach the teachers” session with the goal to empower school teachers the knowledge of teaching art/artistic photography, and to assist them in their own curriculum planning. From the session, school teachers were even inspired to apply photography into other lessons. Every school and grade level has its own set of curriculum – some used photos to inspire essay writing, some integrated photography into science classes to observe detailed ecology of insects and plants. Schools also held exhibitions, where nearby residents were able to re-appreciate their village through the eyes of the children.
In every initiative, ACF records its process and shares its experiences – A New Vista for Children is no different. ACF encourages others to take the lead to bring photography into the lives of children from other rural and remote communities. ACF hosts workshops to consult and help organizations develop plans to initiate their own campaign – from volunteer teaching, to school coordination, resource integration and more. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (TSMC) uses ACF’s blueprint and launched its own photography initiative. Its volunteers collected secondhand cameras from company employees; twice a week, the group journeys to the remote mountains of two of Hsinchu’s elementary schools to lead photography lessons. With the same blueprint, Yue-Yuen Educational Foundation also took on its own photography initiative and engaged a photography professional to coach 250 of its employees the basic skills of teaching photography; with their new breadth of knowledge, they impacted elementary school children in Changhua.
To share the children’s beautiful works with the public, ACF held its third annual photography exhibition in Taipei’s Shin Kong Mitsukoshi, 25 September – 12 October 2015, exhibiting children’s 80 selected works with photos telling stories of their hometown. In conjunction with the 2015 exhibition, ACF also launched A New Vista for Children book which shares its experiences from the beginning as well as featured works of the children.
The interaction between volunteers and children go far beyond photography. Being emerged in the communities allows the opportunity for them to see firsthand the lives of the children, and identify needs that the community or individuals may require. ACF hopes the campaign will continue to spread touching more lives of the children and volunteers.