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Photo exhibition tells stories of personal journeys

Photo exhibition tells stories of personal journeys

Asia:NZ young leaders created an exhibition of photos entitled Once Upon a Time in Asia as part of their leadership challenge for the 2010 Young Leaders Network Forum 2010 in Wellington in November.

With just a week to arrange and install the photos, develop a publicity plan and organise a launch evening – all this while attending a host of forum presentations and workshops in the daytime – the teams worked well into the night.

The energy and drive of these young people are palpable – they are keen to give their best and harness their individual skills for the success of the group project. The opportunity to promote cross-cultural understanding of Asia is a strong motivator. The photos in the exhibition were taken in countries as diverse as China, Cambodia, Japan, Vietnam, Mongolia and India.

But this is not just a chance to put on show the sights and customs of Asia.

More than 50 photos in the free public exhibition tell the stories of the young leaders themselves – their physical travel as well as their mind journeys to Asia and back. It’s a chance to put on display the ways in which Asia is shaping these young people’s futures, identities and career paths.

There are personal benefits to be gained, too. “While racing against the clock, we are honing our leadership and networking skills,” says Bevan Chuang, who heads the curating team.

All venue preparation and photo installation were also handled by the young leaders.

They split into three groups, handling the marketing, curating and event launch. The marketing team was in charge of coming up with creative ideas and resourceful ways of promoting the event to the media and the public.

“Our biggest challenge from day one has been to implement a high quality marketing strategy on an extremely tight time schedule,” says Christiana Zhu from the creative team. “However, we’ve been able to overcome various obstacles by thinking laterally and adapting to the constraints we’ve faced.”

The exhibition launch was a colourful event with young leaders dressing in their national costumes. After enjoying traditional dances from Cambodia and Thailand, MC Wilson Chau invited the audience to "share a vision of Asia though a photographic journey."

Individual photo journeys are organised in three spaces. ‘A Stranger in a Strange Country’ explores the ways in which one’s familiar environment can feel unfamiliar to others or even to the returning travellers themselves.

‘Feeling at Home’ illustrates places in Asia which were close to the young leaders’ hearts despite the distance from their real homes.

Finally, ‘I’m Home, Who Am I Now?’ includes photos through which the young leaders have tried to reflect on how their travels in Asia have shaped a new, different outlook on life.

Once Upon a Time in Asia is free and open to the public from 26 November to 23 December at the first floor gallery, St James Theatre, Courtenay Place.


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