21 October, 2020

Photography & history – how those two things can be combined in the online project

Report from the SCI study camp “Searching for Traces of Forced Labour”

The digital study camp which is organized by the International Youth Meeting Centre (IYMC) of the Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre, located in Berlin, in cooperation with SCI-Germany took place between the 17th and 28th of August. We were 12 participants from over the world: South Korea, China, Bangladesh, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Germany, Serbia, Ukraine, and Mexico, meeting online every day between 12:00 and 14:00 GMT, for some, it was 7 am for others 7 pm, but all of us were united with one goal and motivation to do something meaningful and learn more!

Personally, I was already in the Documentation Centre 2 years ago doing another SCI project, so for me it was easier to imagine the place that the organizers wanted to transmit through videos and pictures. Of course, the feeling is different online, but they did their best to transfer the feeling of the place.




The schedule was pretty diverse and interesting, we covered such topics as NS Forced Labor (Through Photography Analysis) and contemporary forced labor all over the world (for me it was the most eye-opening session). Except for the historical input we received an overview from a professional photographer how our project ideas are implemented through Visual Storytelling. Since the project was organized in cooperation with SCI, a workshop about SCI history also took place and a great overview of the goals and values of the organization were provided.



During the study camp, we had an opportunity to become active and prepare a small digital photography exhibition on the topic of forced labor. We developed the exhibition altogether! In the beginning, it seemed like an ambitious plan and some of us were a bit lost and didn’t know where shall we start and what can we present. However, step by step, with the help of organisers and also regular feedback from other participants we managed to do it. For some, it was easier, for some harder as to shoot our pictures we needed to walk long, ride a bike, go with a car or train to the various places in our surroundings or simply find ideas and inspiration in our homes and our relatives. It was exciting and challenging at the same time, but when you have a common goal and support, then nothing is impossible. Each of our photos has a story behind and means something important to us, so please have a clear look!




You will ask, how we managed this, except for the 2 hours Zoom meetings, we also used the online collaboration platform Trello for various activities and exchange of information, documents, photos, and ideas. And of course, how to be without the WhatsApp group. Even though I don’t like them so much, but it helped to establish group feeling, about which I would like to specify further.



Do you think that online projects cannot create a friendship and intercultural exchange? If yes, then you are completely wrong! It definitely can, every day we had small activities like getting to know each other games, creating identity flowers, sharing the photos from our childhood or our homes. In the end, the online party can also be enjoyed with games, sharing something traditional from the countries, singing karaoke, or just chatting. Who knows, maybe one day we will meet all in person!


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