Picture perfect

Photographer's gift shows the Benedictine values in action through Tanzania service learning trip

Two men, one in sneakers and the other in sandals, kick up clouds of dirt as they spring into the air. A fiery sun slips behind a purple hillside on the African grasslands. A college student is besieged by a group of smiling toddlers, all jockeying for position on her lap.

These images tell the story of a partnership between St. Scholastica and two Benedictine communities across the globe in Tanzania. They were captured by a photographer who made the journey himself, camera in hand, to share the story of the relationship.

The trip of a lifetime

The College sponsors service learning trips to Benedictine monasteries in Imiliwaha and Chipole, Tanzania. Every other summer, a group of students travels to Africa for about a month to help with service projects at the schools, medical dispensaries, and orphanages run by the Sisters. They squeeze in some sightseeing as well.

Adam Bridge, a retired software engineer and landscape photographer, heard about the program during a 2013 visit to campus with his wife, Jan Strand Bridge '67. They talked with President Larry Goodwin, who had just returned from Tanzania a day or two earlier.

"He was so filled with the experience that I thought, 'Wow, it would be really challenging and interesting to try to bring some of what he experienced back in pictures,'" Bridge said. He accompanied a group of students during their Tanzania trip in the summer of 2015, capturing beautiful moments along the way.

A life-changing experience

Among them is a picture of Natasha Maninga '16 cradling a baby in an orphanage. The experience was a highlight of the trip, which she called life-changing.

"I love kids and it was amazing to spend some time with them," said Maninga, a psychology major who plans to go on to study agricultural education. "They are at the age where they need love and attention, and with so many kids and not a lot of workers, it's impossible for them to get the attention they need."

David Schuettler, assistant professor of Global, Cultural and Language Studies, said the trip is a great way for students to get an authentic experience of a world outside their own.

"You learn that Africa is a rich, vibrant place with wonderful people," Schuettler said. He's led students on two trips to Tanzania and plans to go again in 2017.

Human connection

Bridge said it was fascinating to watch the St. Scholastica students step into a different culture and form meaningful relationships through teamwork, with each other and with the Tanzanians.

"There's a deep human connection that's made between the students who are traveling," he said.

From all the images he created, he chose 12 favorites and donated large-scale framed prints to the College. They'll be displayed in the tunnel between Somers Hall and the Science Center, providing a picture-perfect look at the College's Benedictine values in action.

Study Abroad

From the savanna of Tanzania to the coast of Ireland, St. Scholastica students have many chances to explore the world around them. Can you picture yourself in Russia, Belize or China? Perhaps Morocco, Mexico, or London? Learn more about all of our study abroad opportunities.

Awe inspiring

View the photo gallery of Adam's photos.