Specters Stir

Darkhan’s School #15, Mongolia. Halloween, 2008. I worked for a few years as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Peace Corps is a developmental organization which was founded by JFK in 1960. It has three simple goals with the purpose of promoting peace:


  1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

This photo was taken during an activity intended to spread Peace Corp’s second goal. I worked in a number of schools in Mongolia, so on Halloween I figured it would be a great time to teach some of the students a bit about American culture. With a few home room teachers, we encouraged the students to dress up as ghouls and zombies. We had a costume contest in the auditorium; some students wore their clothes on the wrong way and walked backwards to make it seem their heads were facing behind them. One student wrapped himself in toilet paper to resemble a mummy, but most just smeared lipstick and shoe shine all over their faces. The teachers and I bought bags of Russian chocolates and tart dried milk curds aruul for trick or treating and one of the students managed to get his hands on some Chinese fireworks.

I took this photo as the firework was going off and some of my students were staring at it with an eerie gaze. I braced the camera on some books as to reduce camera-shake. I focussed on the students faces so that we could clearly see their expressions. I set the aperture as low as I could (3.5) in order to let as much light in as possible to achieve a crisp focus. It may look like a creepy séance, but it’s really just goal number two.



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