Behind the student lens: Portraits of a Tibetan refugee camp

Three photojournalism students took the trip of a lifetime last December when they were given the opportunity to document stories of the Tibetan people.

The students were part of a larger NAU contingent that traveled to the Tulku Tsori Monastery in Mainpat, India, to provide assistance to refugees as part of the university’s Mainpat Interdisciplinary Global Learning Project.

During their eight-day stay, the students captured life inside the Mainpat refugee camps and connected with the Tibetan people.

“I was fascinated by the people and surprised by their humor and compassion, despite their difficult situation,” senior journalism student Maria Dicosola shared. “Most people, especially students, never get an opportunity to travel like this or to be able to report on a culture that is so misunderstood.”

Led by Laura Camden, assistant professor of photojournalism, the group focused on various aspects of life inside the nine camps. While photography major Sean Ryan spent his days photographing monks at the Buddhist monastery, electronic media and film major Kent Wagner captured video of the Tibetan elders reflecting on their journey from Tibet to India, and Dicosola worked with translators to travel and conduct interviews with the new generation of Tibetans.

“Students put into sound and images not only the refugees’ stories, but also the stories of the caring work other NAU students performed,” Camden explained.

The group recently presented their work, “A Sense of Inclusion: A Photographic Journey of Mainpat,” to an audience at the School of Communication, where the project is being showcased in its second floor gallery.

The gallery also will be the site of a reception for Tulki Tsori Rinpoche, the leader of the Mainpat Tibetan Monastery, at 5 p.m. Monday, May 6. Past and future program participants are encouraged to attend.