100% Student Engagement Series: Photographing the Everyday Lives of Cambodians

University Relations - Communications
Sept. 15, 2014

The University of Arizona is committed to ensuring that every student integrates and applies learning via internships, jobs, research and other opportunities relevant to the real world. This is the first in a five-part UANews series detailing learning-related experiences that UA students have completed.

Noelle Haro-Gomez (Photo credit: Courtney Johnson)

Noelle Haro-Gomez, a UA senior studying journalism and Spanish, spent the summer in Cambodia as part of an intensive summer photography program designed for college students and other young photographers. She was one of only nine students to complete the program, organized by Rustic Pathways Groups.

The program, "VII Photo: Cambodia — Story Telling in Cambodia," trained the photographers to expand their photo and storytelling skills through a series of workshops and masterclasses. As part of the program, lauded for its socially and culturally rich environment, Haro-Gomez and other photographers also met with journalists, members of non-governmental agencies and other photographers, learning about various issues facing the Southeast Asian country.

Over the course of the program, Gomez was able to travel to Phnom Penn, Kompong Cham and the floating villages on Ton Le Sap capturing images associated with rural life, land rights, health care, the arts, spirituality, youth culture, tourism and other issues. Photographers also received professional editing support to aid in the expansion of their portfolios and personal journals.

Read other articles in the series:

Q: What was it about the workshop that captured your interest?  

Haro-Gomez: What captured my interest was knowing that I would be working with British photographer Gary Knight — he is the best of the best. I liked the idea that he would critique my work. Gary doesn't hold back. He is a great teacher as well as photographer. An added bonus was knowing I would be traveling.

Q: What have you gained from your experience in the program?

Haro-Gomez: My responsibility was to work on my photo project. I learned how to take better photos. I can recognize what errors I was making before and I can now correct them. 

Q: How do you envision that your involvement in the program will help you academically and professionally? 

Haro-Gomez: It will definitely help me professionally. I know I can push myself constantly. I can take photographs of any story anywhere I am sent. I know how to look for a story and how to better develop it. I have also realized that there isn't much that throws me out of my comfort zone. So I will continue to travel and push myself.

Q: What advice do you have for other students?

Haro-Gomez: I think every student should apply for any internship or programs they are interested in, even the ones they don't think they can get in. You never know what you will or will not get accepted to. I would rather apply than not. In my case, I didn't think I would get into the program because of all the students that applied, but I did.

Photography by Noelle Haro-Gomez

A Khmer street performer in Siem Reap jumps over fire and knives while working to earn tips from foreigners. 

A Khmer girl takes a break from herding her cows on a hot, humid day in Siem Reap.

A Khmer man carries a heavy bag of shaved ice in a market in Siem Reap.

An outdoor street market in Phnom Penh is busy with activity throughout the day as Khmer people shop for groceries.

A Khmer woman who lives in a rural part of Siem Reap picks cucumbers in her garden.

A Khmer man looks at his phone, resting from the heat in Phnom Penh near the local street market.

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