National Geographic teaches Botswana students the art of storytelling

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Students with no previous photography experience learned how to tell stories through images at the National Geographic Photo Camp in Botswana. For seven days they worked alongside some of Botswana’s best photographers and photojournalists, as well as several National Geographic explorers who shared their knowledge and experience.

For seven days, students aged 16 to 21 from the Bana Ba Letsatsi and Okavango Kopano Mokoro Community Trust learned the power of storytelling through a very hands-on approach. They learned the basics of photography, how to edit an image and also had the opportunity to tell their own story, reflecting on all the ways we relate to water.

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Equipped with cameras, students were able to photograph the people, places and things that moved them, as well as speak to local community members, farmers and businesses about their connection to water and life in the water. general. Students also had the opportunity to explore and learn Okavango Delta (opens in a new tab)a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a vital water source for around one million people.

During Photo Camp Botswana, students enjoyed a game drive in Moremi Game Reserve. A student, Mokgwathi Motswagole, photographed a family of elephants. “The Okavango influenced our way of life as a family because some of us became fishermen, others traditional polers and basket weavers, while others carved mokoro from trees. natives found here. This week I learned why it is important to tell my own story. If we all learn to tell the story of the Okavango Delta, maybe we can preserve it for future generations. ” (Image credit: Mokgwathi Motswagole, National Geographic Photo Camp)

Koketo “Koki” Mookodi works with the National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project and has used his experience in tourism to help establish a conservation education program in the Okavango Delta.

“It was very encouraging to see how these students took part in the photo camp,” she said, reflecting on the photo camp. “I have seen them blossom over the days, gain in confidence and grow in themselves. Watching them learn more about themselves and their lack of boundaries has been very rewarding. I look forward to many other camps.”

Student Angel Gaobon photographed a mokoro poler having a drink by the river during their expedition to the Okavango Delta. As part of an essay on how water is part of his life, Angel writes: “My home is Maun and I’m proud to be from here. There is a river called Thamalakane which is a good place to meditate. place of peace. When I meditate by the river, it is calm and peaceful, with no distractions. The only noise you can hear is birdsong, which relaxes me. (Image credit: Angel Gaobonwe, National Geographic Photo Camp)

Not only is the course designed to give students the opportunity to learn more about cameras and photography, but it also helps build their confidence, makes different possibilities achievable, and provides a new creative outlet.

“Throughout the week, this experience reinforced that we are all storytellers,” said Esther Ruth Mababzi, one of the participating students. “With the right tools and the right opportunities, we can be in charge of our stories, the stories of our shared existence, as communities and globally.”

The week ended with a final show where the students shared the photos and stories they had captured and how they felt about the experience.

Photo camp students exploring the Okavango Delta. “If heaven were on Earth, I think the Okavango Delta would be the place,” writes student Wellington Mutasa. “We must never give up hope, but rather act before everything spirals out of control. We must respect nature and nature will respect us in return.” (Image credit: Thapelo Fanabe, National Geographic Photo Camp)

National Geographic Photo Camp student Mompoloki Xhaniwya took this photo of a mokoro poler while traveling in the Okavango Delta near Boro. Reflecting on the theme of the camp – the ways we all connect and are connected through water – he wrote: “It is very important that we all take part in protecting the delta so that it continues to provide us with life. water for our animals, fish and other resources we need.” (Image credit: Mompoloki Xhaniwya, National Geographic Photo Camp)

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