Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Taylor's College Nurtures Talent Of Young Refugees

Taylor's College recently held the ‘Everyone Has Hope’ exhibition at The Cube Gallery, Ampang, which showcased photographs taken by nine Burmese refugee youths over an eight month period. Initiated in 2009 by Taylor’s College's Canadian Pre-University (CPU) programme, ‘Everyone Has Hope’ is an annual photography project involving Burmese refugee youths aged between 13 and 16 years old living in Kuala Lumpur. This project aims to teach Burmese refugee youths from the Alliance of Chin Refugees (ACR) Learning Centre to utilise the art of photography to document their daily lives and experiences.
Marina Mahathir (front row centre) with "Everyone Has Hope" team.

The launch of the photo exhibition was well attended by members of the public, Taylor's College students and staff. The guest speaker for the event, Yang Berbahagia Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, applauded the initiative and encouraged Taylor's College to continue organising more of such activities. The ‘Everyone Has Hope’ photo exhibition was open for free public viewing from 15 to 27 April 2012. More than 200 photographs were showcased at the exhibition which gave visitors the opportunity to not only view but also support these Burmese youths by purchasing the photographs. The opening night successfully raised a total of RM3000 from the auction of the photographs which ranged from RM25 to RM500. The proceeds benefited the ACR Learning Centre and used to aid with the programme’s operating costs that includes field trips, cameras and educational materials.

Inspired by the American documentary, ‘Born Into Brothels’, this photography project attempts to bring to light the realities faced by the Burmese refugees living in transit in Kuala Lumpur. Taylor's College CPU teacher and founder of the "Everyone Has Hope" project, Mr Colin Boyd Shafer explained that the project’s mission is to provide an avenue for self-expression through art for the Burmese youths and, at the same time, raise awareness amongst the public of their plight as refugees.

These youths are naturally inquisitive and creative and through this project, we want to nurture and promote these qualities. The exhibition features selected photographs that were unique, enlightening and offer realistic depictions of life as a refugee child in Malaysia. The chosen photographs served not only to illustrate the despair felt but also portray victory of humanity over harsh times,” he further added.

He also mentioned, CPU students chose to volunteer for the project as part of their 10-hour community service requirement. However, once they were aware of the refugee situation, they continued helming the project in the hope of creating a difference in their lives. The project has provided many students with real hands on learning experience, and it has allowed local students to mix with disadvantaged youths living in this country”. With the help of CPU staff and local professional photographers, CPU students volunteered their weekends to the Alliance of Chin Refugees (ACR) Learning Centre.

Apart from helping the Burmese youths to detail their lives through photography, the CPU students also exposed them to different subject matters such as singing and fine art. Other activities included field trips to well-known Malaysian attractions such as the Kuala Lumpur Zoo and Batu Caves, visits to prominent photography displays such as the recent

World Press Exhibition and attending a workshop by New York Times photographer Justin Mott.
Since its inception two years ago, the "Everyone Has Hope" project by CPU involving its staff, students and local photographers has successfully raised a total of RM15,000 for the ACR Learning Centre.

For more information on Taylor’s College Subang Jaya, 
call 03-5636 2641, email taylorscollege@taylors.edu.my or visit www.taylors.edu.my.

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