Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 8

Day 8: Yenter
Age: 38
Major: Associates in Science
Hometown: Taiwan
Connection to me: Biology

Yenter and I sat side by side on our laptops and did the interview through chat because of his hearing disability. 

Me:  When did you come to Houston?
Yenter: I was born in Taiwan and moved to the U.S. when I was 9 years old. I mostly grew up in Boston then about ten years ago, I moved to Louisiana.  I raised my family there, then my son turned 15 years old so, I decided to go back to school to finish my degree. Texas has free tuition for disability citizens.
Me: That picture you showed me of you and your wife, I've seen her, does she go to HCC?
Yenter: Her name is Betty...yes, she attends here.
Me: Is your wife also deaf?
Yenter: Yes, she is.
Me: And your son?
Yenter: No, he is hearing. He is CODA (Child Of Deaf Adults). His first language is American Sign Language.
Me: Wow that's incredible. What is it like, to not be able to hear?
Yenter: It does not bother me if I can or can't hear, all that counts is that I am in good health and happy.
Me:  How did you and your wife meet?
Yenter:  Its an interesting story....I used to work for a boys high school dorm at a deaf school...two of the high school students graduated and went to college at SWCID (Southwest College Institution of Deaf), in Big Spring, TX. which is where my wife, Betty went. Years later they invited me to their wedding and Betty was there, that is how I met her.
Me: Were you born deaf?
Yenter: No I was born hearing...I got sick with meningitis then I became deaf when I was one years old.
Me:  What can you hear with the hearing aid? Sounds?
Yenter:  I mostly can hear the background noise, such as a phone ringing, talking in the background, a car horn, etc. I can't hear words.
Me:  Do you ever feel that people treat you differently because of your disability?
Yenter Yes, sometimes.
Me: Any examples?
Yenter:  I used to work for UPS, I wanted to be a driver and drove for one year. Then the headquarter found out that I am deaf and they discharged me due to their insurance.
Me:  Wow I'm so sorry :/
Yenter:  That's alright, I moved on....You have to keep moving on even if you get frustrated. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day 7

Day 7: James Patrick
Age: 22
Major: Economics
Hometown: Houston
Connection to me: Printmaking

Me: Did you go to Texas A&M?
James: Yes.
Me: Which is better?
James: Actually HCC's professors are of higher caliber, I think its because of the smaller classes.
Me: Why did you switch to HCC?
James: I came home for rehab.
Me: Drugs?
James: Drugs and alcohol.
Me: Are you in rehab now?
James: I still participate but I'm done so I'll be back at A&M in the Spring and graduate in 2013.
Me: What drugs did you do?
James: Aderol
Me: Isnt that...
James: an ADD medication, yes.
Me: Do you have ADD?
James: Yes, it was prescribed to me but I abused it. I would take 30 mg a day and stay up for 3-4 days, then I'd sleep for 2 days because I was also prescribed ambient which is a sleep medication.
Me: How long were you addicted for?
James: I was prescribed in high school but it got really bad Freshman-Junior year, so 2 and a half years.
Me: Did you come back on your own?
James: Yeah, I didn't even know I had a problem until I totaled my 3rd car, then I came home.
Me: How did you your parents take it?
James: Now it's a lot better....I mean either I would die or go to rehab.
Me: Thank G-d you're here.
James: Right? I'm thankful to be alive and have a second chance and that I didn't mess things up beyond repair. 
Me: Is there any message you'd like to give to others who are in a similar situation?
James: Get help before it gets worse. If you know somethings bad, don't wait until its really bad.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Day 6

Day 6: Hussein
Age: 20 and some change (21)
Major: Economics
Hometown: Mali, Africa
Connection to me: None

Me: Why did you decide to come to America?
Hussein: I wanted to learn English.
Me: What languages do you speak?
Hussein: English, French, Spanish, Swahili and a bit of Arabic.
Me: You are Muslim, yes?
Hussein: Yep.
Me: Do you like it here?
Hussein: Not really, I like the women.
Me: What don't you like?
Hussein: I don't like the policies and rules.
Me: And the rules are better in your hometown?
Hussein: No, they are worse, but here you have to work your whole life, America is the only country you have to do that or else you'll end up on the streets. Taxes are high and discrimination is bad.
Me: Have you had any bad experiences with discrimination?
Hussein: A few weeks ago I couldn't get into Club Richies because I'm black. They said its a white club. They have a line for all other races but white people can go straight in.
Me: Thats crazy!
Hussein: What are you, Christian?
Me: No I'm Jewish.
Hussein: Jewish people are the smartest people.
Hussein's Friend: No, they just know how to play their cards right.
Me: You have to be smart to know how to play your cards right.
Hussein: There was a scientific research that showed if you put 100 white people together, 60 will be smart but if you put 100 Jews together, 80 will be smart.
Me: Do you hate Jews?
Hussein: I don't hate anyone. With religion, you're either with it, or you're not.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

P Family

Now for a short break from my project "15 Days at HCC", check out the P family! We had a such a good time with them and ended up bumping into them at an event a few hours after the shoot! They are such a sweet family and so easy to work with. It was a pleasure to photograph them! Of course their adorable and good looking kids only made it that much easier :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day 5

Day 5: Edrick
Age: 16
Major: Biomedical and Psychiatry
Hometown: Houston
Connection to me: None

Me: What are you doing here, at 16 years old?
Edrick: I'm still in highschool, doing dual credits.
Me: I wish I had done that, how long have you been here for?
Edrick: 2 years.
Me: What grade are you in?
Edrick: 12th grade.
Me: So when you graduate highschool, you'll have an associates degree?
Edrick: Yes and next year I will go to MIT.
Me: Wow, you already got accepted?
Edrick: Not yet, but they told me they'd love for me to come. I'll either go to MIT or NYU. I would go to NYU for their debate team.
Me: You debate?
Edrick: Yeah, I debate for the Houston Urban Debate League. I'm the Second Tier (second best) in the whole Houston area.
Me: How did you start debating?
Edrick: It was required in my highschool and I just loved it. Now I'm a debating coach at my highschool.
Me: You're so young and you've done so much.
Edrick: I haven't done anything yet.
Me: What would you like to do with your degree?
Edrick: Well, my favorite country is Brazil. I'd like to move there and help improve their medicare, especially with psychiatry. 
Me: Have you ever been to Brazil?
Edrick: No, but this summer I have an internship with NACO, an oil company in Brazil. 
Me: You are so mature, I can't believe your only 16.
Edrick: Well like my highschool principle tells us, we have an image that we have to keep up with. Always remember who you are and where you came from. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day 4

Day 4: Hawwa
Age: 21
Major: Biochemistry
Hometown: Houston
Connection to me: None

Me: Can you only marry a Muslim man?
Hawwa: A woman can only marry a Muslim man, but a man can marry a Muslim, Jew or Christian because those religions are considered people of the book. 
Me: Do you speak Arabic?
Hawwa: I can read it and understand a bit.
Me: Have you been to the Middle East?
Hawwa: Not yet.
Me: Do people treat you differently here in America?
Hawwa: Not really, most people nowadays know about Islam, but often people have their own opinions about it, especially because of the media. 
Me: What do you think about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?
Hawwa: I don't know, I know more Palestinians than Israelis. I know that the Palestinians were there first but the Israelis won the war and took all the land they wanted.
Me: Which war was that? What was it called?
Hawwa: There were several wars between Israel and Palestine but I don't know the names. Both sides haven't done what they are supposed to do. But the Palestinians definitely did what they are supposed to do.
Me: Doesn't it say in the Bible that G-d gave Israel to the Jews?
Hawwa: Muslims and Jews really value Jerusalem but the Israelis keep overstepping their boundaries. 
Me: It sounds complicated.
Hawwa: It is very complicated. A lot of the history is hidden, Jews are digging in the City of David now to prove that it is their land. They are encroaching on Palestinian territory.
Me: What about the suicide bombers?
Hawwa: They are out of their minds. I don't agree with anything that involves killing yourself or anybody else. G-d gave you life to live it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 3

Day 3:  Vladimir
Age: 20
Major: Painting and Political Science
Hometown: Houston
Connection to me: Art History 2

Me: Interesting major combination.
Vladimir: I like politics and I like painting. Everyone in my family is an artist.
Me: Are you Christian?
Vladimir: I don't believe in religion.
Me: Why?
Vladimir: I took philosophy and it made me think differently. 
Me: So how did we get here?
Vladimir: Science!
Me: So when a woman gives birth, you don't think that that is a miracle?
Vladimir: Its just nature.
Me: Have you looked into other religions?
Vladimir: No.
Me: You should.
Vladimir: Religions come and go. They are nice stories, fairy tales that people made up.
Me: O_O
Vladimir: I think studying philosophy made me a little crazy, it made me think too much. 
Me: Are you crazy?
Vladimir: Not when I take my medications :) (just kidding). You should take philosophy.
Me: No way, its blasphemy.
Vladimir: I know :(
Me: o_O
Vladimir: (covering face) I'm so confused!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 2

Day 2: Julia
Age: 22
Major: Undecided
Hometown: Russia
Connection to me: Art History 1

Me: When did you come to America?
Julia: 2 years ago.
Me: Do you like it here?
Julia: I have mixed feelings. I like it and hate it at the same time.
Me: What do you like about it?
Julia: This is the country of freedom, you can do whatever you want and there is so much opportunity here.
Me: What do you hate about it?
Julia: I hate that all my family is in Russia, so far away. I feel very alone. Holidays are the worst because I am by myself. 
Me: Do you have a boyfriend?
Julia: Yes
Me: Is he American? Russian?
Julia: No, he is Israeli.
Me: He is Jewish?
Julia: Yes
Me: I'm Jewish!
Julia: He says that if we will get married, I have to convert first. Is that true?
Me: Well, being Jewish comes from the mother so if he marries you, your children will not be Jewish which stops the line. It's a big deal.
Julia: I dont know how my parents would take it....
Me: I see your wearing a cross around your neck.
Julia: Yes, whenever I'm with him he tells me to take it off.
Me: I dont blame him.
Julia: (Sigh) life is so complicated.
Me: Yes, it is.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 1

15 Days at HCC

The other day as I was walking into HCC, I saw a black girl who looked about my age and 8 months pregnant.  There was something about her that made me wish I had my camera on me to photograph her. It was at that moment that I realized that this is my last semester at HCC and that soon, I will not be surrounded by such diversity as I had been these past 2 years. So I have decided that for my last 15 days at Houston Community College, every day I will photograph one student and interview them. This will be your lens into my community college experience and the people I am surrounded by. I hope you enjoy this project, please feel free to comment on the pictures and interviews. 

Day 1: Gino
Age: 19
Major: Graphic Design
Hometown: H-town (Houston)
Connection to me: Art History 2

Me: Why do you wear so many bracelets?
Gino: I go to raves and get them there. Its called candy.
Me: Do you take ecstasy? Isn't that what they do at raves?
Gino: Not ecstacy, just weed. I get chopped.
Me: Chopped?
Gino: Its slang for high
Me: How often do you go?
Gino: about once a week, once every 2 weeks
Me: Wow, thats pretty often!
Gino: They're fun :)