Today I decided I would learn something new. Initially I thought I might learn how to say a word or phrase in a foreign language, but just as I was about to scan the numerous websites and videos something else caught my eye.
This website and it’s images.
It’s a story through pictures comparing the lives of children throughout the world by seeing their bedrooms. There are children from developing countries and children from first world nations. Kids range in age from 6 to 15. They live on a variety of continents and identify with various ethnic and religious groups.
The most obvious and striking comparison is the difference in conditions in the rooms. Some have no roof, no walls, no bed. Others have televisions, bunk beds, other furniture. It is obvious just how much I take basic necessities for granted. Even many impoverished children in America have better living conditions than some of these children.
I also noticed how children are impacted and exposed to propaganda or culture based on what is seen in these rooms. Posters of political figures and religious icons are seen.
I don’t mean to get political, but I could not help but notice how the American child had guns in his room. I am certain this was reflective of a hunting habit based on the camouflage throughout the room, also. However, I do wonder how some of the other children in the photojournalism project would think of this…particularly in war torn nations. Perhaps they would be appalled, but perhaps they would think it would provide a feeling of security and safety. Maybe it would be shocking or maybe it would not be even noticed much less considered strange. I don’t know, but it does provide some interesting food for thought about cultural differences.
Another thing I found myself considering is the idea of self-expression. Some bedrooms are reflective of the likes, dislikes, and personalities of the child. For example, a Japanese boy has a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal in the midst of tons of electronics. while another child from The West Bank has a room of calming colors but little decorations. It was very sparse and utilitarian. Additionally, some children in developing nations barely have basic necessities so there is little opportunity or consideration for self expression. The differences are astounding.
Learning a little about the differences in the environments of children around the world sure makes me feel grateful for what I have. It also helps me to remember that there are great variances in the home environments of my students which have to be considered in order to help them be as successful as possible.