June 27, 2018

Hampden-Sydney May Term students collaborated with Habitat for Humanity for a unique experiential learning photography class.

Two students work on a Habitat house."Home is the Key," a new photography exhibition on display in the Viar-Christ Center for the Arts, is the product of a collaboration between Hampden-Sydney College and the Farmville Area Habitat for Humanity. The exhibit explores the relationship between education and housing inequality, particularly in light of the racial history of Prince Edward County. Created by Hampden-Sydney students enrolled in a May Term photography class, the documentary project is an example of the College's new experiential learning initiative.  

First, students learned how art and photography can communicate insight into social themes, as well as the technical aspects of using a DSLR camera. The bulk of the May Term course, however, put students to work in the community: volunteering at a local Habitat for Humanity home build and the organization's ReStore, learning about the Prince Edward County school closures at the Moton Museum, and interviewing community members who were affected by it. The final project, "Home is the Key," explores all of those ideas through the story of a local family's path to homeownership.  

The course was an opportunity for Hampden-Sydney students to immerse themselves in the local community while learning through doing. "This was my first year at H-SC," said George Marshall '21, "so I didn't know much about the history of the schools closing. Now I've learned about the local Prince Edward community from multiple perspectives." Senior Jonathan Walkey '18 appreciated how many different types of people came together on the Habitat initiatives. "Working with Habitat really gave me an idea of how much people can accomplish—even in a short amount of time—when they come together," Jonathan said.  

The exhibit, located in the Brinkley Hall Gallery on Hampden-Sydney's Campus, is open to the public Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m and by appointment. "Home is the Key" will run through September 5.  

Students interview a Habitat family.