The five senses project–Reflecting on a photograph about “touch,” by Emily Hadden
July 13, 2009
While this photo is blurry, and the framing might not be what someone else would choose, it was my favorite photograph from our “five senses” project with Swifts standard one. Leafing through the dozen or so photos for “touch”, I came across a lot with the same kind of representation—touching objects. However, these students were the only ones who thought to convey “touch” by holding hands, or touching each other. The portrayal here (which was not selected by the students for the poster they eventually made with pictures and writing) stood out to me immediately. While very obviously, touching or holding hands is a form of “touch”, it seems we disregard our daily physical contact with other individuals, and rarely think of it in conjunction with the five senses. And yet, while I would have probably shown myself touching a smooth or rough object, these seven-year-olds proved they have an understanding of human nature beyond their years. Even still, beyond the impressive display of comprehension, this photo illustrates what I believe to be a huge part of Tanzanian culture. Unlike in America, where handshakes are business-like and physical contact is only appreciated or encouraged with close family and friends, in Tanzania, handshakes are more hospitable and physical contact is something expected and used as a sign of welcoming. So, in true Tanzanian form, these young children hold hands—just another reminder of the welcoming and hospitality we have received since our arrival in Arusha.