Unexpected gifts

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by ann, Dec 13, 2006.

  1. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    Unexpected gifts.

    Many times we may wonder why we do what we do. Lately I have been questioning myself as to my future goals and how long I will continue to teach.

    Today, I got a reminder.

    Last year I taught some darkroom classes at a mental health educational facility.

    They had a very nice little darkroom and I worked with people who were basically out- patients, learning some new skills and having a bit of fun.

    One young man I worked with was institutalized, heavily medicated and really wasn’t working out well in a group setting. His doctor thought perhaps working with one person in a different type of environment might be helpful to his treatment.

    So he became my student. He was a sweet young man, and we spent about 8 weeks together, twice a week, several hours at a time. He was heavily medicated and his hands shook, so I would load the film for him and he would develop it himself. His interest span was short and so I had to think of a new way to teach him something that might be lasting. So we did paper negatives and solarization, chemical painting and even some photo grams.

    He could run through a roll of 36 exposures in 5 minutes, and not have much to show, but he loved it.

    He would talk to me, and with me and his doctor was pleased with his progress.

    As most things go, things came to an end.

    Yesterday I received an email from this young man, who has moved, gotten married, has a dog and more importantly for this story, a darkroom.

    I responded to that message with a message to keep taking those pictures and have fun. Today I got a reply “.yeah its fun! i will continue 2 take pictures even if it kills me”.


    Do I think that those 8 weeks were a cure, no, but it certainly gave him something.

    A great reminder of how much joy photography brings to so many and how much I receive from teaching.
     
  2. picturetaker

    picturetaker Member

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    A great story - as much about your care as his focus on photography.
     
  3. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    Excellent, Ann! Well done! :smile:
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Well done, indeed!
     
  5. papagene

    papagene Membership Council

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    Ann - having spent time conversing with you in the chatroom this story doesn't surprise me. I have come to realize that you are a special person who could reach such a person as in your post.
    Excellent work and congrats on the success story.

    gene
     
  6. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    thank you for your kind words,

    i wanted to share this story to remind us all that what we do has far reaching effects, not to indicate i was special.
     
  7. papagene

    papagene Membership Council

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    We still think you're special!!
     
  8. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    ann,

    Thanks for sharing this piece of you - and you are indeed special to have given of yourself as you did.

    Maybe you and your former student should do a shoot together sometime and post some pics here?

    Working with the mentally challenged (however they may be) is a very special thing and requires a level of patience and acceptance that defeats most of us.

    My wife and I are fortunate to have as neighbors in Copake one of the Camphill Village communities (folks here can Google for further info). This community by us is extra fortunate because the famous classical pianist, Andre Watts, has a special affection for them.

    Each year he performs a recital for the residents (both "ordinary" and "challenged") as his way of sharing his talents. Much as he is a highlight of their calendar - so are they one on his.

    We were privileged to attend the recital last year (my wife is a classical pianist and has been a Watts-freak for years and was so extra thrilled!) and were so impressed with how comfortable he was sharing his talent with everyone and then spending hours of time just being there at a reception.

    Beyond his obvious musical talent, he showed a special talent to just treat each individual as a friend - without judgement or condescension. He was just a person interacting with a person.

    You're blessed, ann.

    And I say that as a non-religious person.
     
  9. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    BRAVO! My son (now 24) has special needs. This world needs more people like you.

    Rick.
     
  10. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member

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    Well done, Ann. Thanks for sharing your story. Although I don't teach photography, my guess is you can never really know how you may have influenced your students. Just knowing what they may have taken with them from the class is not easily measured for photography teachers, but it sounds like your students (all of them) are fortunate to have taken your classes.

    And how gratifying it must be that he still loves photography!

    Thanks for sharing this story, Ann! As someone said earlier, bravo!
     
  11. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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    I have always had the highest regard for teachers. regardless of what, who or what age they are teaching. I am sure many teachers never find out the influence they had on students. I think you are very lucky to get to see how you have changed people, helped them. I'm sure there are many many more.
     
  12. André E.C.

    André E.C. Member

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    Great, so great my dear ann, what a beautiful story and great gift you both got from each other.:smile:

    Cheers

    André
     
  13. kraker

    kraker Subscriber

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    Thanks for sharing this story, Ann, it was a very nice read. Even if it had ended just with you sharing knowledge and time, it would have been a great thing. Seeing that you have triggered something in the other person really tops it off. This really shows that the world can be a nice place...
     
  14. jolefler

    jolefler Member

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    Thank you for your actions and story, Ann!
     
  15. arigram

    arigram Member

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    Imagine if he sends you an invitation to a big NY gallery opening of his work...
     
  16. sionnac

    sionnac Member

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    Ann,
    It is a wonderful thing to reach out the way you did. You have given him a gift as well.
     
  17. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Thanks Ann.
     
  18. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    What a great story, and what a great feeling indeed. It is sometimes interesting how something like this happens along just when we are at difficult crossroads.
    Bravo!
     
  19. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Subscriber

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    Amazing reminder of why we teach. Keep it up, Ann. Think of all the ones you haven't reached yet! And thank you.
     
  20. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    Great to hear things like this Ann, thank you for sharing that.