The Daotian Series

     These images are from a short series of photos taken at Daotian Middle School in Changsha, Hunan, China. The objective of this series is to show the daily sites of a Chinese middle school. The hallways remain relatively silent while classes are in session as teachers lecture and students sit silently as they take notes. Between classes the hallways become a chaotic mix of upper level students and younger students struggling to pass notes, get in a game of table tennis, buy snacks and eventually make it to their next class before the bell. Life here is not all that different from middle schools in the US and a patient eye can even catch glimpses of young love unfolding in ways that would be all too familiar to anyone half way around the world.

     My intention was to capture the physical building and surrounding areas rather than the students themselves. Because of my short time at the school I did not feel comfortable working with the administration for permission to photograph the children in action, but in at least one of the images the shadows of kids moving in the hallways are present. At thirteen we, as people, are not all that different and even with the language barrier I was able to communicate with some of the kids.

    Despite the bad feelings left behind as a result of administration mismanagement I can look back fondly on my time at Daotian Middle School. I can also look back at my Chinese police record from the administrations misinformation and lack of accountability. I sympathize with the teachers who are still working at the school. I also miss the lunchroom. Lunch was the saving grace of each day.

All the best to the children of Daotian.


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