Aug 23 2012: Club update: IYAA’s cultural exchange trip a success

Story by me and Anupama Cemballi. Originally published http://elestoque.org/2012/08/23/entertainment/club-update-iyaas-cultural-exchange-trip-success/

During the last school year, the International Youth Advancement Alliance, IYAA, split off from the Friends of Hue Foundation and became an independent club. Restricted by school regulations, members began meeting over the weekends to plan a cultural exchange trip to an impoverished location. Their work culminated in a four week long trip to Hue, Vietnam this past summer.

Sixteen IYAA members from six schools in the district visited children in the Xuan Phu Shelter, a place for the “less fortunate,” according to junior Thai-Vinh Huynh. Planning for the trip started last year, and the total cost per person was roughly $2000 — $3 a day for food and the rest for airfare.

In previous years, IYAA has helped improve the shelter through projects like repainting the walls and creating a garden.

“[We] wanted to do something with the kids this year,” member senior Karen Ye said.

The theme this past summer was self-discovery through photography. The club believes that Vietnam, as an impoverished country with different cultural values, doesn’t emphasize individuality the way the United States does. Taking photos was the perfect solution.

IYAA members eat lunch with orphans from the Xuan Phu Shelter in Hue, Vietnam. The trip was planned last year and lasted four weeks over the past summer. Photo from IYAA’s Tumblr blog and used with permission.

According to junior Jenny Lu, IYAA selected four motifs: environment, macro (details), portrait and self-portrait, one for each week. Divided into groups,club members would go on photo journeys with the kids to capture images relating to that week’s theme.

“Each group had a four day period to teach the kids,” Huynh said. “The first day we had the workshop on the theme. The second day [we] taught them how to use the cameras. We would go out for the [photo] journeys after that. And the third and fourth day were for reflections.”

Even though the trip was only four weeks long, IYAA believes that they have accomplished something significant and even found ways to relate to the older orphans. This year the club is no longer sanctioned by the school, but their purpose hasn’t changed — over the coming months members hope to expand it to areas beyond Vietnam like Cambodia and Laos, while also focusing on local areas like Oakland.

Visit IYAA’s blog to read entries and see more photos from the trip.

{cc-by-nc-sa} Yimeng Han

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