Monday, 04/04/2011 09:51

Poor kids introduced to creative careers

by Ngoc Le


HCM CITY — The Thang Long English and Vocational School in HCM City, which benefits disadvantaged children, held its first creative courses introductory session on Saturday to develop children's interests in photography and visual communications.

Teachers, students and sponsors decorated classrooms and showed visual presentations to interested children and parents.

The first visual communications course started last September, with three out of the first four students finishing the first semester after six months, according to Peter Cameron, who laid the foundation for the course and now serves as a consultant of the project.

The idea of a visual communication class was conceived after an extensive survey with most players in the advertising industry last year, which demonstrated "an immediate need of staff trained in artwork and production skills at international standards," he said.

Students are trained in graphic design at the Colour Club, a Danish production house of digital imaging and graphic design in the city, and work with industry professionals from various agencies in workshops.

"In that way, students have good prospects of getting jobs after graduation," he said, noting that the students are trained to become digital-imaging artists.

Even though first-course students still have two more semesters to go, they are qualified enough to work in most advertising and design companies, he added.

One of the first four students of the class, Van Cong Dao, 23, said his acquired skills allowed "his imagination to fly free".

"I can develop lots of ideas to optimise images," explained Dao, who also attended photography classes as a teenager, adding that he is now employed at The Colour Club with a satisfying income.

Photography classes were first organised nine years ago, said photographer Nguyen Ngoc Dung, who is in charge of the classes.

It takes impoverished children between 12-16 years of age two years to learn the craft, he noted, adding that the school now has only 10 digital cameras for practice.

The school organises from three to four trips to provinces each year during which children can take photos of people and life. Some of the photos went on to bag prestigious photography prizes.

"Photography helps the disadvantaged have a more friendly look at culture, eradicate an inferiority complex, express their outlook and dreams, and become more confident in interacting with society," he said.

"Photos children have taken during the course testify to their dynamic feel of life with subtle perspectives," he added.

Photographer Guy Gonja, who also works for the project, remarked that "once children learn to see the world through cameras' lens, their visions of the world will change forever".

"Photography enables children to share their own stories, appreciate the world a lot more, and their vision will change day after day," he said.

The Thang Long school is run by Sai Gon Children Charity, a nongovernmental organisation which aims to help disadvantaged children get access to education and better lives.

The school currently trains more than 300 impoverished students from District 4 and neighbouring districts in a range of courses, including English, computer skills, make-up, hair-dressing and hospitality skills, among others.

"Many students got stable jobs to support themselves as well as their families," said rector Pham Kim Oanh. "Some of them were able to open their own hairdressing shops." — VNS

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