In August 2014, Bryce Thomas set off on the adventure of a lifetime.
At just 18, with little travel experience, he travelled to the East African nation of Uganda, supported by a travel grant from UTS BUiLD (Beyond UTS International Leadership Development). Each year the leadership program gives students a chance to engage with countries, cultures and causes at home and overseas.
“If you’d asked me then, about where Uganda is, I’d probably have to say somewhere in Africa with no perceptions as to where it would be, [what it would] look like or what way of life its people lived,” says Thomas.
But what Thomas discovered in Uganda was far more than the nation’s location on a map.
The Media Arts and Production student spent 12 days capturing footage for a documentary about the Manjeri School Project, which aims to empower local communities through education and sustainable development projects.
“Travel is something that excites me a lot, but this was something really special because through photography and video you can really capture these people’s stories. It was so special just to learn about their lives,” says Thomas.
He interviewed and filmed constantly and says that helped him to engage more deeply with the people and their country.
“I was able to meet teachers, children and members of the community. That’s where I really started to feel a connection with the project.”
The result is a beautiful collection of photographs and a short documentary (see Youtube link below) which convey the raw beauty of Uganda and the spirit of its rural communities.
This summer, BUiLD is helping more than 400 students participate in programs in China, India, Malaysia, Germany, Fiji, Cambodia, the US, the Maldives, Vietnam, Indonesia, New Caledonia, Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Costa Rica and Singapore.
The BUiLD: Summertime Competition aims to highlight their experiences and reward the best entries. Students in a BUiLD summer program are encouraged to share their stories through words, pictures, videos and audio. They can post their works on the UTS BUiLD Facebook page and BUiLD Student Society Facebook group, and upload to Instagram using the hashtags #utsbuild and #buildinspires.
The overall winner will receive a 12-month subscription to The Collective Magazine, and the winner of each of four categories will receive two tickets to O’FEST 2016.
Entries close at 11.59PM AEST on March 1, 2016.