Ana Vargas had innovative ideas about engaging the community – both the young and the elderly – and MIT-India helped her discover how to make them happen.
Ana Vargas engages children with photography.

Underserved populations, great potential

With support from MIT-India, Ana conducted a series of workshops that introduced children and elders to ideas of photography and urban geography. Her students explored urbanism through photography and mapping, and developed their understanding of public space. Focusing on populations in the lowest income areas of Mumbai, such as Malwani, a transit camp in danger of being demolished by Slum Redevelopment Authority, the workshops were a channel for community development. In addition to her youth workshops, the elders chronicled memories of neighborhood spaces, resulting in a local exhibit.

Learning from teaching

“The biggest impact of this research was on a personal level,” she says. “I realized how limited my view of the world had been.” It also furthered her academic and professional ambition as she developed the project into her graduate thesis and built her own series of workshops around the globe. “This internship helped me build my entrepreneurial confidence.” Ana was introduced to the MIT Tata Center and Ana went on to become an MIT Tata Fellow, and she went on to win a UN-Habitat/Dubai Best Practices Award. Her current projects are updated on her website.

Through MIT-India’s network, Ana especially enjoyed the many local partners who assisted her in executing an ambitious series. She collaborated with four illustrious organizations: The Urban Design Research Institute, Teach for India, The Ball Project and The Bus Ride.

  • India
  • Internship
  • Arch & Planning