Palo Alto students hold teen photography fundraiser event


Courtesy of Jady Tian

The Oracle

Written by Evalyn Li

The “Eyes” fundraiser was held at the Mitchell Park Library on Oct. 18. It displayed and sold Paly and Gunn students’ works as well as those of a local professional photographer. The event raised around $900, which will be donated to a Tibet based non-profit school for blind children, Braille Without Borders, through local Bay Area Friends of Tibet.

Courtesy of Ilana Silverstein

Junior photographers Jady Tian, Kelly Liu, Janis Iourovitski, Julia Huang and Ilana Silverstein began planning the fundraiser last spring. Tian wanted to fundraise for a Braille Without Borders after meeting a few of the blind children on a trip to Tibet in the summers of 2013 and 2014.

Tian believes photographs express the photographer’s perspective and that an exchange of photographs is a chance to see the world in different ways. “Normally people do art just for the sake of doing it, but I wanted put [our photography] to better use,” Tian said.

Courtesy of Ilana Silverstein
Courtesy of Ilana Silverstein

With this application of photography in mind, Tian connected the fundraiser to her prefered cause, aiding the blind Tibetan children. During the fundraiser she gave a brief presentation to the attendees about Braille Without Borders and her summer experiences in Tibet.  “The best part was that I actually got to tell people the stories of the blind children and my personal connection with them and after people heard about the purpose, they actually started purchasing more photos,“ Tian said.

In addition to creating an opportunity for local teenagers to sell their photography, the organizers learned many real-life skills during the process of planning. They drafted a budget plan and submitted a full proposal to the City of Palo Alto’s Garage Street Fund, which supports local teenagers’ events.

Tian expressed that the fundraiser was an unexpected learning experience and opportunity to connect her interest in photography and experience in Tibet. “I think it just gave [the participating photographers] a feeling of accomplishment; they don’t just take photos, people actually use their photos to help others,” Tian said.