Each student brought something valuable to the team and helped make the program a success. They all took inspired photographs and confidently interviewed people about the U Street neighborhood. Beyond that, however, Bryant was a great compromiser and managed to merge ideas for the exhibit together while still maintaining their integrity. Kealea, Claire and Emily were always willing to speak their minds and share their ideas and helped move the discussion about themes and design along. Justin and Jasmin produced inspiring artwork and writing, respectively, that added immensely to the exhibit. Olivia, Arianna and Kwame took the lead on the interactive elements in the exhibit, and persevered through all the challenges we encountered with them. Together we were a well-oiled machine that moved along surely and confidently to the opening date of the exhibit.
This is my second time in this position, and I continue to learn more each session. One of the things I like most about my job is that it teaches me not to underestimate anyone, especially young people. The perspective that these students bring to taking, analyzing and thinking about photographs and photography in general is always amazing. So often adults can dismiss this age group because of their alleged lack of experience in the world. If anything, though, their perspective is sometimes fresher and clearer than our own. It shows you how fantastic the combination of youthful energy, engaging material and interested mentors can be.
And, of course, I have to mention my fantastic Teen Assistant, James Brown. This is the second time I have had the honor of working with James in this capacity. He dubbed us “Batman and Batman”, because “there was no sidekick this time.” That is completely true. James helped immensely this summer by taking on the planning of site visits and knowing how best to work with the kids when I couldn’t be in three places at once. James also handled all the math of the layout and is about 100 times better at using power drills than I am. I couldn’t have done it without him this summer!
U Street Team: You did a fantastic job this summer. You should all be proud of the exhibit and your hard work. It really is time for you!