Completion of a global art project in Cape Verde, Africa: 2012
In early January of 2012 I received a message from my friend Sarah about a project that was beginning to take root around the globe. It was an art project, a public photography movement that at that time had not yet gained much momentum in Africa. The Inside Out Project was the brainchild of French artist JR (see prior entry) whose photography projects focused on inequality and sought to help people in need, usually by giving voice to or raising awareness of victims of crime, expropriation or rape, or by improving living conditions, in a number of different countries in Europe, Africa, Asia and beyond.
JR participated in the 2011 TED Talks, a series of talks and performances by inspiring people from all arenas of life, and won that year’s $100,000 TED Prize, which is awarded to one individual per year who wishes to change the world. He used his winnings to create The Inside Out Project.
JR TED Talk 2011
I was living in Ponta Verde, Fogo, in the island nation of Cape Verde at the time. Sarah’s suggestion was to incorporate the project into the curriculum of one of the schools in Fogo and use it as an English lesson but also as a prompt for getting students to think about their futures. Her suggestion reached me right before I entered into the future tense unit for my own 8th grade classroom in Ponta Verde, wherein I had students write essays on their career of choice and predict how their choice would impact their lives. I had done the same lesson plan the year prior and it was one of my most successful units, so I was on board with the idea.
With Sarah’s suggestion in mind, I collaborated on an essay prompt with Emma, another volunteer on Fogo. We planned to recruit and photograph 20 students and then photograph 20 corresponding Cape Verdean professionals in the fields that students wrote about. We planned on 40 photos total: two per profession (one aspiring, one current). We posted fliers at the Escola Secundária Dr. Teixeira de Sousa in São Filipe and the interest was immediate. Students swarmed, asked for fliers, grabbed for pens to write down information and made promises to have essays done by the following week.
Three months and many setbacks later I had nine good student submissions and decided to move forward at half the size Emma and I had hoped for. I met with each student individually over the course of a week to revise essays together and detail the project’s aims and origins. Once I photographed each student, I had just under two weeks to track down Cape Verdean professionals who were willing to participate and either provide a photo or meet with me so I could take one to upload to the site. From start to finish, the project took four months.
The goal of the project was multifaceted. When I did the future tense unit in Ponta Verde with my 8th graders, I found that most students had never considered what they wanted to do after school. They didn’t know how to construct a goal or develop strategies for attaining it. It was a daunting exercise for them and they set their sights low to avoid disappointment. Although the students from São Filipe chose ambitious careers and demonstrated their motivation early on, one of my primary goals remained proving the possibility of attaining a goal. I wanted to prove to them that a Cape Verdean could be a successful cardiologist or a film actor, even if currently there are few. I wanted to take the anxiety out of professionalism for the students, so I photographed professionals (to the extent that I could) in normal clothes that wouldn’t mark them as anything in particular. This also helped with the mystery of the process: I wanted the project to be unexplained until after its completion to spark discussion and critical thinking not only among students but also among the community of São Filipe.
Another big aim was simply to put Cape Verde on the map. Literally and figuratively. I’ll be the first to admit that before going to the country I didn’t know anything about it. I have encountered only two people in the past three years who even know what continent it is part of. Many maps of the world don’t include the archipelago (including, prior to this project, the map on The Inside Out website) and maps of Africa are hit or miss. I wanted Cape Verde, Fogo specifically, to feel that it was part of a global movement and could demonstrate to the world its capability to contribute to the artistic community. But I also wanted the world to gain awareness of Cape Verde and its people, and begin to believe in its students just as its students were learning to invest in themselves.
The students blew me away. Their motivation, determination, capacity to dream and plan for the futures of their family and country truly inspired me. They surpassed my expectations from day one. I am incredibly proud of each and every one of them and honored to have been a part of this project with them.
Carlos Jorge Gomes Alfama, age 17
Frankly, I finished studying in Mosteiros, getting away, from my family, girlfriend…to continue my studies. I’m now suffering from many difficulties, but I will do everything to solve them.
When I finish my studies I will try to adapt to some careers, such as police, lawyer, engineer, or professor of Geometry.
Among these careers mentioned above I would like to be an engineer. It is a career that offers lots of money, and it also has to do a lot with my personality. Example, I love to draw. I like to do plans for home. My father has job in civil construction. Mosteiros doesn’t have Geometry, I’m going to Sao Filipe to continue my studies in Geometry to be an engineer. I love the mathematics.
I think I’m going to choose this way of life because I have been influenced by my parents, mainly by my mother. My mother said to be engineer because she likes she likes that career. She likes that I be happy. My mother said to study so I will be a big man and have big family and be happy.
Be an engineer is a dream that I have since childhood and to realize this dream I need to study very very hard.
Denilsa Pires Fernandes, age 17
Choose a carrear is a tough decision, actually is one of the biggest challenge that life puts right on your face. Because when you choose, you’re choosing something that you’ll do for the rest of your life, I mean your work life. So, it needs to be perfect, something that you love, that you can bear everyday, always knowing why you’re doing it. Some people think it’s easy to just pick one, but it’s not that simple. You may not think or feel, but there is a lot of pressure in choosing one: it may come from parents, work market, school average, even from our own personality. Well I feel all that, but nevertheless: I wanna be a surgeon!
Like I said it was not easy to know that surgeon it’s the “perfect” job for me, it take some time to realize; now I can see I’m “suited” to this job (I was like “where the hell you had been all this time?”). But why surgeon? Firstable, I love human body, inside and outside, and in surgery I will see, touch, work with that fascinate machine. I’m pretty sure that surgery will bring me a lot of satisfaction, success and happiness, not for me but also for people who I’ll be able to take care. But I think what really push me to choose this profession is the tv show that I don’t miss, “Grey’s Anatomy.” It is an American medical drama television series that deals with doctors (surgeons) and nurses lives, bosses and lovers at Seattle Grace Mercy West hospital, as they struggle to complete their medical training and maintain personal lives. That show is the closest I can get to the actual thing, so in every episode I learn something, because they’re always showing a new care, a new emergency trauma and a new lesson, involving several specialists: neo-natal surgeon, plastic surgeon, orthopedic surgeon, cardiologist, trauma surgeon etc. I may change but, cardiothoracic surgery it’s on my mind. I get so exciting when I watch all the routine they pass through everyday, the adrenaline they feel, opening a human body, curing and saving people’s life and all that agitation, I wanna feel it too, everyday. I know it’s fiction but people die fast and suddenly everyday in these days, it’s not just because the way they die but also because of the lack of care, I mean we need more: more hospital equipment, more professionals, more surgeons. I’m definitely doing it, I’m going to study and specialize and come here to save and take care of my people and do my best being one more specialist here in Cape Verde. I’ll be a Verdean surgeon even if I work abroad because whenever I am I’ll be part of here and in some kind of way I’ll be able to represent globally Cape Verde. I’ll make sure my country will gain with my job because when I come back I’ll bring something necessary and advantageous like, equipments, experience, maybe professionals and who knows, contribute to the existence of a new option in college, medicine.
Most of students don’t opt for medical studies due a lot of reasons, but I say overcome all obstacles to achieve success, because a lot of them don’t opt to, not just because they don’t want to but because they think they can’t. But if they knew how human body works and think in amazing way, they probably change their mind, I would change mine. But there is the other point to check: your weakness and strength. Of course I considered all this when choosing surgery as a carrear, I don’t fear blood or dead people at all, I can work under pressure, and I know I can be there, for anyone who needs to be saved or a human body to be fixed, I really wanna fix it, can’t wait to hold a scalpel. So surgery means a lot to me, it’s kinda my life, my passion, the reason I’m fighting for, that I’m struggling in school, I know I’ll pretty much spend my “childhood” in and out of hospitals, but I can’t picture myself doing anything else. A carrear in surgery is challenging and rewarding, but once I believe I can do anything.
Edmilson Goncalves Lopes, age 17
“A Profession, A Future”
As a child are many ideas in the future to be a hero, ideas are born with each passing step, images are created in the minds of all the dreams, realities are created to fill a responsibility that still shows unknown, while the children ideas are created to fill an empty space that no one knows, a profession, a function, a responsibility to be someone in society.
I wanted to be as a child a police officer by the influence of my father who exercised this profession and died in the same performance, but created in around my family, fear of losing another member exercising the function of police, the consequence resulted a departure from this more each day until I say fixation to be a policeman. But over the long life and the world showed me other probabilities, other realities to follow, and before so many possibilities now I’m sure you want to be a lawyer in the future.
I chose this for me is one of the best professions that exists because I identify with this profession, I think it helps in the development of a judicial society, well, a society that citizens know the laws but not those who have not help in its interpretation of legally developed. And I’ll have the performance of this profession like the citizens in the interpretation of laws, because I think the function of a lawyer is not only restricted in the defense of his client in court, for me being a lawyer is something else, is to have the sure that they improve the level of legal knowledge of citizens .The contribution or benefit that I think this profession will be Cape Verde is precisely in the field of international recognition of a good legal system and lawyers able to perform their tasks without jeopardizing the good name of Justice Cape Verdean. In writing this short essay to my mind has projected exercise myself in this profession, because my ambition of being a lawyer is increasing, increases in each level to study, something that is not described because I already dream of being a lawyer, internationally recognized for exercising a profession dream and be a hero to children born every day.
Erivaldo Lopes, age 18
I think that in the future I will be computer engineer. I want to follow this career because I like so much technology and computers, and it is an area in growth. Cape Verde has bet enough in innovation and use the new technology, for that I think to have hypotheses to reach success and to help in growth and development of my country.
This is a job that demands creativity and intelligence; practically there no unemployment and the wages are relatively good. There are several options for employment. I always dream invent new things, so I like math and physics, which also are linked to this job.
Informatics Engineering is a profession very comprehensive. There are several branches, specialties. In our society today, all converges to the computer. The trend is computerized to make life easier. The Software Engineer is increasingly asked to intervene in several areas of society: health, education, security, etc.
The engineer is someone with a solid scientific and technical, multidisciplinary, allowing you to respond to the great diversity of situations that have to cope in a society in constant change. The formation of the Engineer is continuous. Given the rapid evolution of science and Engineering techniques, learning the Engineer must be constant. In addition, the human side, the sensitivity, it is increasingly important because of the increasing importance of professional engineering society.
I dream to do innovations mainly referring energy. I dream to create new programs, machines capable to use better the energy and avoiding waste and to motivate use renewable energy as well as new sources of energy to guarantee the future of our planet.
Jean Michel Barros Correia, age 16
Composition about future profession
The profession I would love to be in the future is actor, a lot of people when they heard me say that they tell me “Oh, you want to be an actor so you can famous or rich!!!”, but that’s not it. For me representing it’s something else, something really cool, it’s like making an effort to have a different personality and for me that’s all I want to do, “Be someone else, have a different personality”!!
I think it’s:
Interesting because it kind of attracts me to do it, like when they invite me to do a roll play, a piece of theater I get so interested in doing it but that doesn’t happened in 2 years. And that’s why I want to be an actor so I can represent all the time!!
Exciting because when I’m acting, I feel like if I were someone else and I love to, from times to times, be someone else like: a teen with special powers, a teen with problems and so on. Being a different person it’s so exciting, it’s like a total different life and I just love it at all!
Funny because I get together with so many other people, who I don’t ever know, to do something really “off the hook”, live other people’s life!!! And sometimes we laugh about other’s mistake, paper and other’s talk!!
So making a long story short, I’d love to be an actor to 1st represent other people and have some fun meeting new people and 2nd of course to have nice life! Be someone else it’s all I wanted, so I’ll never get bored!!
Thank you for reading!!!
Lara Liza Lopes Silva, age 16
The course I intend to do is international relations. I chose this course because I always love meeting new people, new cultures, new places and be regularly updated and do something that I have and I think is important to help my country develop.
For those who want to pursue this career in international relations as well as I must have an ability to learn languages and interest in economics, politics, law and history, among other abilities. The professional degree in international relations is empowered to negotiate and make the interests of intermediation agreements between different parties.
It can work for countries, states, municipalities, private companies and NGO’s, is seeking funds, partnerships or projects with closing objectives. Is necessary to have different cultural tolerance and empathy for others peoples. Also must have facility to establish contacts and make friendships. Interest for languages is fundamental. Portuguese, English and Spanish are basics. Is good to get a differential such as Mandarin for example.
The state of Cape Verde is governed in international relations, the principles of national independence, respect for international law and the rights of man, equality among states, reciprocal advantages of the cooperation with all other peoples and coexistence peaceful. In the island where I live that is the island of Fogo, the chances of working in this area is very rare or even null, be able to work in this area, the way I dream, only on the island of Santiago, Praia, the capital city. I think this course helped my country in many things, maintaining cooperation with other countries is very important to the economy of a country, among other things.
To that I can be a master is international relations, I will need much work, willpower and a lot like the same, I know that will not be easy, but with much determination will accomplish one of my many other dreams of being a professional relations international faith in God.
Katio Patrick Teixeira Barbosa, age 19
I write this work in order to talk about my future career, and represent Cape Verde in this project.
In the future I would be a doctor because I love this profession. Since childhood I like this profession and I hope I can fulfill that dream. I like to help people. I like to help sick people be healthy. Many people need health because it is very important for life. I choose this because I think it’s a profession very important in our community and people need it. So I’ll talk a bit about the doctor, and my profession that I chose.
For me the choice of my career is very important because I have a profession I like in the future. My mother helps me. She wants for me to do what I like to do. This work can change my community, country, the world through the union of people and the love I have for this work. Because I like to help my community to be clean.
This job globally represent Cape Verde, though my work that was developed over my career during this project. This job represent that Cape Verde wants to be healthy equal to other nationalities. Doctor have more opportunity to help people and health is very important in life.
I have some help from people, and I fight for my future. I fight and sacrifice much to achieve my goal for me and to be something in life.
I hope this work will be well enough about what this application and composition, and I thank for this opportunity we have to participate.
Keven Patrick Barbosa Vicente Lopes
What I want?
I want to be a civil engineer because this area is more interesting to me. And I feel well that I will work in this career. To describe this area I say that you will make the plan for house, plan architecture, make the plan for electricity and plumbing, and help with urbanization.
As part of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Civil Engineering, specializing in Urban, Regional Planning and Transport, I feel a strong force, a will to do something for this, since I’m in an area which is the science and technology which provide me with a background and serve as a vehicle to achieve my goals. But has one important thing that is connected to it, I have no money for this, or my parents cannot afford for financial help. Yet it is my dream. My intention is not to reach the top, but rather I have desire to give my contribution to Cape Verde in general and Fogo, my beloved land in particular.
On the other hand, the spatial distribution of human activities, in part, should be directed towards meeting the basic needs of populations. This constitutes a concern for me. It is the case in many countries that there is a large concentration of population in urban areas, as the case of Cape Verde. Speaking of the contribution I can give, is special for my country, I can clearly say as an example my island has desire for urbanization and I want to advertise my community I live in.
I am having a very large disadvantage to achieve this objective, but if I get some help with my potential no doubt will get where I want to reach, but always with the desire to support Cape Verde. Because they want me to work, investigate the area and work with force to better it.
To complete my work, I can say that everything is in my hands, and this right for me to struggle and fight, but I have no words to express all I can do. One thing I know well that those who have a social character integral and transmitted to people and can reach victory.
My future profession
For my future life, i would like to have a good profession. I know in Cape verde we need police, because they are important for the society. Here are some reasons for the choice of this profession for my future.
First of all is very important for any society. In my island, Fogo, I see the scenery is changing. Ten years ago it was safer than today. So, I want to join other police to transmit security. I would be present and circulate in public places and in “Periferias” where there is more violence. With the presence of police, it will give the neighbours a sense of security.
Second, because I want to be an example for the society. I am little rigid because of the education I received from my parents and I understand them now better. The rules have to be fulfilled, and as a police woman I have to accomplish with my duties. I have to respect others, do not abuse from my authority, punish who deserves and not be unfair with others. People will look at me as a good example to imitate in the society. Who knows I may help the youngs to have a nice behavior?
And finally, it is something brought by my family. I have relatives and I think the conversation I have with them, influenced me to see the society needs more police. With the conversation I have with my cousin, he tells me that in cape Verde we need more police, and I see how he worries to have a good society, and police can help for that to happen. He told me about the good and bad things a police face, and I am decided to do. I am sure if all the police do their duties, we will have a better society.
On August 17th, 2012, we were finally ready to post the photos. Many of the students who participated were gone for summer break and the professionals who took part were scattered among the islands of Cape Verde (one in the States), but Edmilson, Keven and Lara were able to come help. We were joined by Vanusa and Lourdes, two artists from São Filipe, and my friend Maxi from Guinea Bissau. We spent five hours walking across São Filipe and posted photos in nine locations, one student and corresponding professional per location. The local news crew spent some time with us and filmed the students putting up posters and granting brief interviews. Community members came up and asked questions, first only speaking to me but then approaching students and helpers as the latter gained confidence to explain the project.
One of the best parts of the day was seeing the reaction of people whose portraits were up. The students had a blast posting their own photos!
The Inside Out Project in Fogo was a huge success. I have no doubt that the amazing group of young men and women who participated will get far in life and fulfill their dreams. I’m proud of all of them and can’t wait to see where they go in the next few years.
A big thank you to the many people who helped along the way: Sarah, Emma, Ruth, Vanusa, Lourdes and Oliver, Maxi, Tony, Dr. Vanda, Luis, Roberto, Delano, Dr. Carlos, Moncha, Maria, Benvinda, Dr. Maria, Yang, Rob, Benvindo, and of course Carlos, Denilsa, Edmilson, Erivaldo, Jean, Katio, Keven, Lara and Marlene for writing stellar compositions and choosing to be part of the project.
Es meninos e meninas ki participaba, muito obrigada. Continua pa frente, força.