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As a working professional, Tom Grant focused hard on his career. As a doctorate in education student in the University’s Center for Ethical Theory and Honor In Competition and Sport, his dedication to pursue his studies has allowed him more opportunities for personal and professional development.
“It really changed my perception of the world. I learned so much about their culture, way of life and beliefs. Everyone was so hospitable and nice,” says Grant. “They really taught me a lot about the world and myself.”
He recently spent three weeks in the remote Indian village of Sahoo, in the Himalayas, with International Photography Partnerships (IPP) and a local partner teaching young children photography skills.
As a newspaper editor in Augusta, Ga., Grant worked with freelance photographer Bhaskar Krishnamurth, who later created IPP. For the last couple of years, Grant wanted to join an IPP workshop and as a graduate student at Idaho, he finally had the opportunity over the summer.
“India is a rapidly changing country,” says Grant. “It’s a remarkable experience to see the world through the lens of a child. They had a great time with this.”
The Nikon-donated cameras allowed the village children to document their lives in a rapidly changing world, where electricity and running water aren’t necessarily necessities.
“It’s a valuable project, their way of life will be so different in the next 10, 20 years,” says Grant, who worked with children of sheep herders, road builders and people. “Valuable aspects of their culture are being lost as life moves into the 21st century.”
Through the camera lens, Grant says the project shows insight into what the children and their culture hold most dear – they first took pictures of their temples and family.
Grant says a majority of the photos documented 1,000-year-old temples in their village, their family members and work occupations, like tailoring or shepherding. The children were invited to workshops every other day on photography, where their photos from the previous day were downloaded and critiqued and improved upon during the two-week experience.
On the days the children were not in the workshop, Grant and the team hiked to the student’s homes to meet with the families. Some of those hikes lasted three hours for the North Americans, but only two hours for the children and their families.
“It was really amazing to see the dedication of these children to come to not only the workshop, but walking two hours every day to school,” says Grant.
He adds because of the nature of the roads and the mountains, once you walked two - three hours, you could see the village nestled below the mountainside homes were no roads led.
“It’s an extraordinary way of living,” says Grant. “The food was limited, but wonderful, and they all were so willing to share what they had. It’s a different life, it’s tough, but wonderful.”
Grant’s group also took several children to the festival in Chamba, a larger city in the region, where students took photos and tried new international foods and saw dances.
“It was a lot of fun for us, but a tremendous experience for them,” says Grant.