By Vanessa Kang
The purpose of the five-day photography trip to Hanoi was not to capture postcard-worthy shots but to open the eyes of 15 Ngee Ann Polytechnic students to pressing world issues
Organised by the School of Interdisciplinary Studies (IS), the photography trip to Hanoi, Vietnam, from Apr 7 to Apr 11, was open to students of all faculties.
Miss Jennifer Koh and Miss Maisie Ong, the lecturers in charge of the trip, focused on photojournalism as they hoped to “expose our students to world issues or different cultures, but through different languages and platforms”.
Believing that photography is the best way to achieve exposure, Miss Koh wanted the students to “understand how pictures… can actually raise awareness of social causes and social needs, and be a gateway to exploring, probing and [having a] deeper understanding [of] social issues.”
Ryan Kwek, a final-year student from the School of Life Sciences & Chemical Technology (LSCT), signed up for the trip despite not having any photography experience as he thought “it sounded interesting” and “was an overseas option for an elective module”.
Biomedical Science student Timothy Wong echoed that sentiment, saying he never thought that photography could tell a story, much less bring into focus an underlying message.
The photographs taken throughout the trip raised awareness of the different issues in Vietnam today.
One picture Ryan took was of a gold-framed window, which overlooked rundown houses. “I thought that [it] was a clear representation of the rich seeing the poor … but [not doing] anything to help,” he says, referring to the widening income gap of the Vietnamese.
Caryn Yuen, a student, from the School of Humanities & Social Sciences (HMS), tried her best to capture the culture and way of life in Duong Lam Village and the extent of cultural imperialism in Hanoi.
Feeling extremely frustrated at the number of tourists in the village, she says, “I couldn’t really take a lot of photos because people were just ‘photo bombing’ you and entering your photos.” She adds that these are problems that society has to consider, along with their consequences and “how [they] affect the village”.