Students create films, study culture in Laos


Students visit a historical site in Laos, where they created short films over spring break. Credit: Astor Wu/Chronicle

Jessa Glassman

Students traveled to Laos over spring break as part of an HWGO! Digital Storytelling trip. Planned in collaboration with Peace Works Travel, the trip allowed student to experience Southeast Asian culture, learn about the country’s history and tell locals’ stories through both film and photography.

“My photography teacher recommended [the trip] to me because it was a good opportunity to go travel somewhere and have fun, but also an opportunity to do photography, get better and take photos I would never otherwise have the chance to take,” Izzy Baradaran ’20 said. 

Eleven students departed for their 11-day trip March 22 and returned April 2. Visual arts teacher Jackson Kroopf ’06 and visual arts teacher Heather Trawick served as faculty advisors. 

 Once in Laos, the students focused on the region’s history. Specifically, they learned about the lasting effects of the Secret War, the American attempt to oust the Laotian communist leader through excessive bombing at the time of the Vietnam War.

“[The students] learned about why the U.S. dropped so many bombs on Laos and the impact it had on communities, families, villages and people there,” Kroopf said. “But they were also exposed to things like the cuisine, the relationship to religion. They got a pretty wide-ranging survey of what comprises the culture there.” 

After returning from Laos, the students met twice during spring break and will continue to work on compiling their films and photographs to present to the community in a showcase. The projects will be on display in the last week of April.