Writers fortnight for 9th graders Journalists who came to share experiences

Before the Chinese New Year break, 3 journalists came for Writer’s fortnight for the 9th graders. They came to tell their work and story of how they became who they are now. This includes journalist/writer/photographer Nic Dunlop, Mouth Artist/Paralympic Christina Lau and spoken word poet Kosal Khiev.

Nic Dunlop

A professional photojournalist/Writer, Nic Dunlop, came for Writer’s Fortnight for 9th graders. The Irish/English photographer had worked in many different parts of Asia, photographing for many productions and companies including New York Times, the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph etc. He came to our school to enlighten us with his passion for photography.

When he came, the 2nd time to Writer’s fortnight, he gave us a number of photographs, and try to convey the story of a little girl bringing her dog to a vet. He was trying to prove that photography can convey a story just as equal or sometimes stronger than an article. Pictures in an article are sometimes crucial to convey the message across.

An example of his work is when he was working in Burma(Myanmar), exploring the lands where military dictators the country. He saw a perfectly normal life, not like what you will expect where the country is ruled by military dictatorship. Using the art of photography, he captures the silent life of Burma in black and white.

“Photography changed the way I saw the world.”

It had given him many opportunities to work in different countries that he himself want to explore. Countries like Cambodia, Burma and Thailand fascinates him and he was and still is interested in the contrast between the lives in Southeast Asia and Europe.

His book, the lost executioner, is about the mystery of the death of 2 million people killed between 1975 to 1979 in Cambodia, killed by the Khmer Rouge. Nic tracked the only man left who is in prison awaiting trial, Comrade Duch. He has interviewed and photograph Comrade Duch about his story in Khmer Rouge, and how many lives was in his hands and yet he took it for granted. Nic said, “He said that they were innocent people, and am guilty in killing so many innocent people, that had done no wrong.” For this project, Nic received an award from John Hopkins University for Excellence in International Journalism in 1999.

Through him, we have learned about how photography is as important as the text, sometimes more, as a good photograph captures the focus point better than text and description.

Nic Dunlop showing 9th graders how photography is more than an image, but rather a story.

Christina Lau

Christina Lau, a mouth artist and paralympic, came for Writer’s Fortnight to share her story of how she became paralyzed chest down. She was in a serious car accident in Malaysia 2005. Her life was completely changed. She at first thought that she will never be able to do things again, entering the stages of depression. She then realized that her being sad and depressed leads to the people around her to be sad and depressed at the same time. Seeing others concerning for her was her stepping point in overcoming challenges. She started to mouth paint at 2009, and through practice, became a mouth artist at 2012. In Writers Fortnight she encouraged us to not give up and even with difficulties and obstacles on the way. She has encouraged us to do what we want to do, no matter the circumstance, to enjoy what you want to do with your life.

Christina Lau answering questions from 9th grade students.

Kosal Khiev

A spoken word poet, Kosal Khiev, had many interesting stories to tell. He had spent many years of his life in prison(14 years), imprisoned for an attempted murder. He came to Writers Fortnight to speak about his life in poetry. He explained to us how fear is contagious, and the peer pressure of being in a gang in America. He used poetry to perform about his life, his emotions, his feelings to other people.

Through him, we have learned about his life stories and how in even in the worse situations, there is always a way to happiness, in which for him is in poetry. The most important message that I took away from that lecture is that how one mistake can change one's lives forever. Once he went to prison, he is a convict. That status and fact will not change. Once he left prison, he will always be called an ex-convict. People will always remember you for what you have done wrong and mistakes, instead of your gains, earnings and what you really deserve.

Kosal Khiev in Conference room 2 lecturing to a group of 9th graders.

- Lydia, UWCSEA EAST, 9th Grade

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