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A Glimpse into Intergenerational Life:
My Grandparents and Me - A Photography Exhibition Designed by Rural Chinese Children

In September 2022, thirty children from F Town Primary School in Chongqing and staff from the Youth Well-being Lab at The University of Hong Kong collaborated on a five-week photography exhibition project. These children's parents worked in other cities, so they stayed in their hometown and lived with either one or both of their grandparents. During these five weeks, we conducted five group sessions. The children shared their growth experiences, personalities, hobbies, happy and unhappy events, and of course, our theme - life with grandparents, through texts, drawings, games, photography, and verbal expression in the group.

Session 1: Nice to Meet You

In the welcoming session, we collectively established some class rules including respecting others, maintaining confidentiality about the shared content in the group, and attending each session on time. Everyone also wrote down their expectations for this group. The children used drawing as a means to share scenes from their family life in the group.

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"Whenever my grandparents are in a fight, I secretly imagine a war in my mind."

Session 2: Let's Talk About Our Grandparents

The children shared stories about the time they spent with their grandparents and what kind of people their grandparents are through games. During this session, the facilitator also invited the children to create their own “Life Journey Map.” They wrote down significant times, places, and people who were with them at those times on the map.

 

During this activity, we also brought up some questions about "photography" and "Photovoice." We wanted to know, in this era where everyone has a mobile phone and takes photos daily, what does photography mean to these rural children?

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"Photos last forever."

"Photography is like honey because it can make people happy."

"Photography is for recording unhappy events!"

"It's to make up for some regrets."

Session 3: Photography Class

As the third session began, we asked the children to brainstorm on the role their grandparents play in their lives. We also brought digital cameras for the children and gave a simple explanation of photography knowledge, including framing, lighting, adjusting focus, composition, and how to use photos to help express feelings.

 

We assigned a photography task to the children: to document their life with their grandparents over a week, and we provided seven themes for shooting, such as the places where we live together, and the things we do together. The children also voted to choose three themes they wanted to shoot, including what I like the most about my grandparents, how my grandparents helped me, and so on.

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Photo taken during group session

Session 4: Photovoice - Photo Sharing Session

The children each selected three photos they wanted to share from the ones they took over the week and shared them in the group. The sharing of photos needed to answer the “SHOWeD” questions[1] that are part of the Photovoice technique, such as, what was I doing when I took this photo, what was my mood, and why did I want to share this photo.

The SHOWeD technique was used to facilitate photo sharing.

During the photo-sharing segment, the children also shared difficulties they encountered during the week of shooting, new discoveries, and some interesting incidents.

"I captured a photo of the money my grandpa had hidden, and then showed the photo to my grandma,

and they had an argument."

"My grandma thought the camera was stolen by me and asked me to return it."

Session 5: Let's Create an Exhibition Together

In the last session, we asked children to design an exhibition that would take place in the school and community. The children came up with names for the exhibition themselves, such as “Happy Memories” and “My Loving Home”.

The children's photos were on display in the school!

A Photography Exhibition Designed by the Children Themselves - Online Edition

The children's masterpieces

For more information about this project, please feel free to contact the Photovoice facilitator, Yihang.

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