Meet Elina – A New Instructor Goes to Kenya – Building a Photography Program in Africa – Part 8

I’m very excited for the next development in the photography program in Kenya. An education team will be traveling to Alendu to work with LightHouse Academy students in July, and one of the travelers will be working with the photography students! Elina is a remarkable young lady, and while this will be her first trip to Kenya, it will not be her first international trip. She was adopted from the Ukraine, where she later spent some time living there with her family, and is herself a growing photographer. Elina possesses working knowledge that will be of great benefit to the students, from photography, business, social skills, English as a second/third language, and beyond. She will turn sixteen years young the day before her departure, and will spend just over a week working with the students.


From conversing Elina with Dorothy together, I realized how far we’ve come in a very short period of time. All of the lessons we could share with her were entirely foreign just a few months ago, and often came with a great deal of hard work, even struggle, but also success. Like anything new and ambitious, this time will not be without challenge. I know from personal experience that the cultural changes alone are enough to emotionally and mentally drain visitors. Elina has the fantastic advantage of working with Violet & Daisy with a foundation already built, and I cannot wait to see the cultivation of her trip bear fruit. Throughout Elina’s trip, some of her objectives are as follows:

-Find out where the students are at with what topics they feel confident about, are challenged by, enjoy, and what they want to learn more about.
-Build on their foundation, using the two new Intro to Digital Photography books when possible to answer their questions. This will help them learn how to research using the materials they have to answer their own questions. Independence is key.
-Document what is surprising about the project, opportunities for support/growth, challenges.
-Discuss with other team members which traits for future students in the program should be identified, and how.
-Take as many photographs as possible.
-Have fun!

I am especially interested to hear how the students take to working with Elina. As the girls are very close in age, I’m hoping they connect on a more personal level, helping the students develop beyond the photography component. From language skills to personal growth, Elina is in a unique position to connect and walk with them on their journey. My connection with the students has been that of a professor to student, quite formal, serious and focused. It is important that they understand the gravity of the opportunity they have, but also to develop passion for the craft as something they can enjoy, express themselves and create. There is a delicate balance between pouring out creatively on a project, and being fulfilled through the same means. I’ve balanced personal projects with my professional work and find center is a moving target. Often, when I feel technically at my best, I’m also the most drained creatively on account of focusing more on skill than passion As art programs are a truly foreign idea to these students, it will be intriguing to watch the students flourish and expand their ability to communicate. Choosing students who have the right combination of focus, skills and creativity is also a challenge, a point of interest we are keeping in mind for new applicants.

Elina is working on raising funds for her travel, and if you’re interested in learning more about her project, you can follow her at Elina Hope Photography on Facebook. Good luck Elina, thank you for joining us in this project and we all look forward to sharing in your journey!

As the photography project has come to life in Kenya, check out:

Building a Photography Curriculum in Kenya with Rafiki Africa – Part One.

Building a Photography Program in Kenya – Part Two.

Part Three – Staying the Course.

Part Four – The Journey Begins.

Part Five – Teaching Photography in Kenya, The First Week: The African Experience

Part Six – Teaching Photography in Kenya – Meet Violet

Part Seven – Living a Legacy: Daniel Mast & the Rafiki Africa Photography Program

Part Eight – A New Instructor Goes to Kenya! Meet Elina!

Part Nine – Distance Learning

Part Ten – Visiting Benta’s Home with the Photography Students in Kenya – Coming Soon!