San José, Costa Rica --- Through my eyes, my life in Costa Rica/A través de mis ojos, mi vida en Costa Rica
The goal of the project was to analyze the impact of photojournalism as a research method – to understand how photojournalism can be utilized as an effective means of empowerment, self-expression, and form of communication. The project was sponsored by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Asociación de Consultores y Asesores Internacionales (ACAI) and in collaboration with the United Nations-mandated University for Peace. A team of Costa Rican and Colombian refugees were selected randomly by ACAI, UNHCR’s implementing partner organization in Costa Rica, to participate in the 6-week workshop. The participants were taught basic concepts and principles of design of photography, lent digital cameras, journaled reflections, and instructed to take photos of whatever they liked as long as it was through the perspective of the following three questions, and detailed within their reflections:
- What is your life in Costa Rica like?
- What is good about your life? (What are the positive aspects?)
- What should change? (What are the challenges?)
The community-based participatory research approach allowed for the participants themselves to tell their own stories of the significance behind their lived experiences. They were given the opportunity to express themselves, given a voice to shed light on their daily realities as they see them – not by what others project onto them. The self-selected images and reflections by the participants were shared as a bound book and exhibition for International Refugee Day within Costa Rica.
The exhibition later was showcased and traveled through parts of North & Central America, ending with an exhibit at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland following the publication within The Broker, a bimonthly magazine and online publication based in the Netherlands that aims to contribute to evidence-based policy-making in the field of poverty reduction and international development.