On the Move: Drawing connections through photographs
Becky Field has retired twice and at 66 is now in the middle of her third career. She spent 20 years with the federal government as a wildlife ecologist for the Department of the Interior. Five of those years were in Alaska as Director of the North Slope Bird Habitat Study. While in Alaska, she was trained as an EMT and became interested in disaster management. Returning to the “Lower 48,” she taught biology and wildlife ecology at Plymouth State University, Brandeis, Colby Sawyer and the University of Massachusetts. She facilitated a cross cultural experience between young biologists from the University of Massachusetts and Costa Rica University. Thus went Career No. 1.
A move to New Hampshire to be near her unwell mother brought Field to Concord, where she volunteered for the New Hampshire Red Cross. Her volunteer job led her to become director of communications for New Hampshire Red Cross for five years, until she decided she needed to do something different. She retired from Career No. 2.
Field had always had an interest in photography and had taken hundreds of pictures with a “point and shoot” camera until she became impatient with the waits for developing film.
She now has a professional camera that works with her computer and shows her pictures as they’re taken. She signed up for a two-year certificate program in photography at the New Hampshire Institute of Arts, where she initiated a photo series titled “We are Different – We are One.”
The intent of the series is to promote global awareness and peace and justice for all, for which causes Field photographs the everyday lives, celebrations, religions and customs of foreign-born New Hampshire residents. She hopes to open the eyes of those of us who have not had the privilege of knowing New Hampshirites who have come here from different countries. Many of these folk came here to escape indescribable poverty and/or religious or political persecution. Some were educated professionals who left careers behind – taking menial employment here while learning a new language and lifestyle while they re-establish their professions in a new world.
“I can’t tell you,” Field said, “how much I admire those who have pulled up stakes and come here – often with nothing but the clothes on their backs – to start new lives.
We know them as “these people.” How often have you heard it said, “How can we
support these people?”
Field has taken 35,000 photos to document the vitality, strength and diversity that foreign-born new Americans add to our communities.
At a time when there is so much debate on refugee and immigration issues, Field’s pictures show the differences that come with various cultures and belief traditions as well as the activities we all work at – supporting families, raising children, practicing spiritual beliefs, being part of a community, celebrating traditions old and new. One of Fields’s favorite photographs is of a Muslim child sitting on Santa’s lap.
“What I didn’t expect when I began this project was how much I’ve gotten out of it, so many new friends and contacts, so much I’ve learned, an added dimension to an already full life. I really didn’t learn until I retired who I’m supposed to be,” she says.