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Celebration!

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We’d hung just a few images on metal shutters, using magnets salvaged from old stereos, when the street cleaner working nearby sat down to watch. The men drinking tea at the little chai stand nearby all turned to watch. It wasn’t unusual to draw looks while installing an exhibit in this unusual location, but their words…their words were perhaps unusual.

Jwana. Zor jwana.

It’s beautiful. It’s very beautiful.

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And they were right. As a mosaic of images covered the space yesterday, it was undeniable: the students had made beautiful photographs. We had pushed them hard to make work that we knew they were capable of making. They rose to the challenge. They are proud of their work, as are we.

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In the early years of The ONE-SHOT Project, we used gallery space to exhibit the student work. We made a special event, where family and friends were invited. It was lovely. But we learned the lesson at ONE-SHOT:Santiago; when you hang student work right in the context where they live and work, right in the midst of their neighbours, you give a huge gift to the students as well as everyone around them. The students had their works seen by hundreds of people who work in the area. Folks who likely don’t go to galleries. No one was shy to vocalize their appreciation. And our students got to hear those words over and over… Jwana!

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Each student received a certificate of achievement, a flash drive containing all the images they made during the workshop. As well, each student chose one of their images from the wall to keep. For a few, it was a difficult decision.

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After the images had been admired, the baklava and fruit eaten, and our appreciation expressed to all who gathered, there was time for a few selfies before everyone went home.

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Huge thanks to our translators, Nahro Ahmed and Lass Jalal! We couldn’t do what we do without them.

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And lastly, we want to thank the STEP Center for facilitating this class, and in particular Kak Raheem. I don’t think he’ll ever see this post, but he is one of the most extraordinary people. We learn more about love and respect for children every time we work with him.

In the days ahead, we’ll continue to feature student work here. We hope to find a space in the city to show the student work for a longer period of time, and of course we’re making plans for future opportunities for young people here. We hope you’ll continue to follow along.

Baban & Halmat

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These first three images were made by Baban. Baban has proven himself to have the eye of a street photographer. It was so interesting to see the kinds of images he made on the weekend, without the streets of the bazaar nearby.

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This second set of three images are from Halmat. The last image is of a set of prayer beads, something very common to see in the hands of men here in Kurdistan.

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Gmo

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A few images from Gmo. In case you’re wondering about the first image, the tool photographed in beautiful light is for cutting cakes of sugar into pieces. When you’ve chipped off a piece of sugar, you hold it between your front teeth, then drink hot tea through/around the sugar.

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Bestun

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Bestun is one of our most serious & enthusiastic students (who also plays the role of class joker). Some of my favourite times in this workshop were spent with Bestun, huddled over the screen on the back of his camera, reviewing his work before he handed the camera back at the end of a session.

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Ara

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When we reviewed images in class today, it was with serious mixed feelings. It was our last time together in a class setting. I can safely speak for both Heber and I when I say that this is a special group of young men, and we are going to miss working with/learning from them.

On Thurdsay, after a couple weeks of daily classes and practice, the students took the cameras home over the weekend to make images from their daily life.

And they made us so proud.

We’ll gather together for a public exibition of their work next week (more on that later), so while we’re reviewing and printing images this week, we’ll show you the work the students made this past weekend.

Today we feature Ara.

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