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ESOL students help produce Halifax-themed photography exhibition

A group of ESOL students at Calderdale College got involved with a new project – helping a university student produce a photography exhibition.

Halifax-born Gerard Liston was tasked with putting together a research project for his Photography degree at Falmouth University. From here, he decided he wanted to feature his hometown, and understand the perspectives of others who are living in it.

Gerard got in touch with tutor at Calderdale College, Eve Wagster. Eve explains: “Gerard wanted to understand the different perceptions of Halifax.

“I thought, quite a lot of our ESOL students are seeking asylum and have come to the UK for safety, most of them arriving in the last year, so I thought their comments about the area would be interesting and could authentically describe what they see for the first time, whilst navigating their new culture.”

The project consisted of a six-week-long work placement with Gerard, where students would annotate his images and write comments in English and their own, native language. Students also took photos on their phones and Gerard offered guidance on how to take an interesting photo.

To complete his project, Gerard produced an online and in-person exhibition featuring the work and words of the college’s ESOL students.

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Eve continues: “The thoughts, feelings and memories that surfaced in response to Gerard’s project were enriched with, but not bound by delight, laughter, inquisitiveness, sadness, anger, reflection and compassion.

“Rich comparisons were made between Halifax and the countries our brave students have travelled through and from. This project allowed them to broaden their vocabulary and explore unfamiliar words associated with Halifax, such as cobbles and The Piece Hall.

“I am so proud and impressed by the images the students took themselves, and they remained professional throughout the project – these people are the future of Halifax.”

The digital exhibition can be viewed here: https://issuu.com/gerard-liston/docs/sense-of-place_halifax

Eve adds: “This online exhibition will be shared far and wide, lots of the students involved were looking forward to sending this to family in their home countries as it is accessible due to the multiple languages annotated by students.

“I think it is exciting that this work may be viewed and enjoyed on a global scale.”