Fri, Apr 13, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Yearbook project helps remote areas

SMILING STUDENTS:Public contributions have been crucial in helping the volunteer photographers who travel to remote schools to brighten children’s lives

By Jonathan Chin  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Every year since 2015, photographer Yang Wen-yi (楊文逸) has toured the country providing free yearbook photography for children in remote, economically disadvantaged school districts.

Yang on Tuesday went to Pingtung County’s Mudan Township (牡丹), where his team of six was to make a yearbook for Gaoshih Elementary School’s graduating students.

The school’s two campuses, the main campus at Gaoshih Village (高士) and the satellite campus at Mulin (牡林), have fewer than 50 students each, almost all of them of Paiwan descent, principal Lee Wen-chin (李文欽) said.

This year, the main campus has five and six graduates at its elementary and kindergarten schools respectively, while the satellite campus has eight and three, he said.

Yang said he started the project with two colleagues from his former studio and more than 20 people volunteered to help last year.

Many young photographers are joining him this year, he added.

Yearbooks have never been produced for Gaoshi Elementary’s graduates before and it moves him to head the studio helping the school to print its first, Yang said.

Yang’s production team stayed in Tainan before heading to the mountains early in the morning, arriving at Mudan just in time for the sun to break through the clouds.

Students at the school dressed up for the occasion. Wang Fei (王霏), whose given Aboriginal name is Vayayun, wore a traditional red and blue Paiwan dress and a headdress for the occasion.

Chang Chih-kun (張智坤), whose given name is Kabi, jumped up and down with excitement and afterward peered into the camera viewfinder to look at his photo.

“I want to thank you all for supporting the yearbook project for remote school districts in 2018,” said Chen Chiao-wei (陳巧微), whose given name is Gebaw.

Public contributions have been crucial for the project, which is now printing real yearbooks instead of single-page albums, Yang said.

Many volunteer photographers have turned down clients to be able to fit in with the schools’ academic schedules and one photographer sold their gaming console to chip in, while several colleagues who could not make it this year baked cookies for the children, he said.

This year, the yearbook project started in New Taipei City and moved south.

The project is to serve about 250 students and print a total of 318 yearbooks, Yang said, adding that any contributions from the public are very welcome.

“Giving the children a way to keep a good memory makes all the hard work worthwhile,” he said.

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