Samay Village - Life in a Remote Village
2007 for the duration of 6
months I was teaching at the Institute of Photography and New Media in Thimphu, Bhutan.
My students, five young men and five young women, were in their second year of a three years full time education programme in which they learnt the basics of photography, graphic design and journalism. The assignments that we were working on were to do exact documentations about life (hardship and pleasure, fears and hopes) of 20 people in the capital Thimphu. Each student was following a self chosen person over the period of one whole week, learning about his or her background, about the actual life and work conditions and the challenges and pleasures of this individual . After completion of a first documentation, another person had to be selected and documented.
To compare the life situation of town and rural areas we decided - to do the same research work in a remote village in Bhutan. So we decided to move to the village where Samten, one of our female students, is originating from.
To travel to Samay, Dagana was already an unforgettable adventure: the public bus we travelled broke down 2 times with 3 broken tires. We ended up spending a very relaxed night in our sleeping bags, camping beside the bus, in the open space.
In Samey we were welcomed with a lot of hospitality: although we actually thought to regularly cook for our ourselves, every evening our whole group was invited for dinner by another house and family in the village.
This field trip in which my 10 students were exploring and documenting the lives of total 20 different people in Samey became a very important and formative experience for me. It helped me to learn and understand better and clearer the situation of Bhutan, being in between traditional and modern influences, wishing to keep alive precious traditions while opening up to way to modern life. This and similar experiences -while travelling to and staying in many remote corners in Bhutan- became the base to develop and design concepts for further projects dealing with culture and education; from 2010 until 2013 I conducted a Participatory Photo Project as part of the HELVETAS Bhutan project "Leveraging and Preserving Bhutan's Cultural Diversity ".