Beckon Us From Home

In patriot camps and clubs around the United States, roughly 400,000 children are taught annually, often with military subtext, what it means to be an American. Beckon Us From Home is an ongoing visual investigation into how a nation instills patriotism and passes down military tradition to new generations, exploring how different combinations of religion, love of country and military training come together in unison of these teachings. In addition to publication in global news outlets such as the New York Times, REVEAL and National Geographic, project distribution is specifically focused on engaging young people directly in conversations on topics such as national identity, patriotism and media representations of youth culture. 

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The dual messages of "America first" and "Americanism" can be found not only at the forefront of current political movements, but in the pages of literature and education taught at camps and clubs across the United States, where thousands of youth are choosing to spend their free time. While “Americanism” is a concept that has been around for decades, I am defining this “new Americanism” as a renewed embrace of the centuries-old theme of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny. While these programs are spread out across the nation, around 375,000 American youth are enrolled annually.

Photographed in twelve different states across a divided country, Beckon Us From Home is an ongoing still photography project investigating how a nation instills patriotism and passes down military tradition to new generations, and aims to explore how different combinations of religion, love of country, and military training come together in unison of these teachings.

Impact & Resources

In partnership with CatchLight and United Photo Industries, Sarah co-led student exhibition tours and created a lesson plan for teachers to share her project in educational settings. She presented her CatchLight Fellowship project to over 125 students as part of Photoville’s Education Day on September 20, 2018. Student groups attended from schools throughout the NYC area including Brooklyn Heights Montessori, Digital Arts and MS 839, Lyons Community School, Bronx Collegiate Academy, The New LIFE School, West Bronx Academy. The student tours with Sarah at Photoville not only provided an opportunity for students to ask a professional photojournalist questions about their work and process, but also created an opportunity for them to interact and respond directly to representations of youth experiences and culture in current media. Following engagements with students at Photoville, Sarah was invited to present her work to approximately 80 students at Oxford High School in Connecticut, and has plans to visit additional classrooms throughout the Northeastern United States in early 2019.

Beckon Us From Home Discussion Questions

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INFORMATION ABOUT THE WORLD FROM?

IN A COUNTRY THAT CAN BE SO POLITICALLY DIVIDED, HOW DO THESE IMAGES MAKE YOU FEEL?

HOW DO YOU THINK THE MEDIA TYPICALLY REPRESENTS YOUR PEERS / GENERATION?

WHAT STORIES ABOUT YOUTH IN AMERICA WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE REPRESENTED IN THE MEDIA?

Sample of student responses to the question “What stories about youth in America would you like to see represented in the media?”   “I would like my generation to be seen as diverse, and not just one things because not all of us are the same.”  “I would like to see a story in the media about people my age group are helping out and changing the world. Our generation is facing many challenges that have been passed down to us, but we are trying to make a difference.”

Sample of student responses to the question “What stories about youth in America would you like to see represented in the media?”

“I would like my generation to be seen as diverse, and not just one things because not all of us are the same.”

“I would like to see a story in the media about people my age group are helping out and changing the world. Our generation is facing many challenges that have been passed down to us, but we are trying to make a difference.”