I returned from Rio de Janeiro two days before I started school. Since then, I've answered endless questions from my peers and professors about the trip. As I look back, I can't even begin to believe the experiences I got to have and the connections I got to make. I walked off my plane in Rio and met 40+ journalism students and professors from Ball State University. FORTY new connections. I introduced myself to Matt Lauer from the TODAY show. One new connection. I introduced myself to New York Times photographer Doug Mills. Another new connection. I left Rio feeling like I had not only taken great photos, but also as if I had joined a club. I had connections now. And in a competitive world like the journalism world, I value those connections just as much as I do the photos that I took there.
I learned how to speak enough Portuguese to be able to ask people for their names. I learned the art of observing without interfering. I talked my way backstage at a dance event at Olympic Park even when I didn't actually have a credential. I managed to avoid getting my camera gear stolen on the beach. I photographed a beach volleyball player's family celebrating in their USA gear. I toured a favela, which is considered a slum in Rio, and spent some serious time with the children living there. I learned to problem solve on the fly, I learned how to get gutsy to get the shots I wanted, and most of all, I put into practice everything that I had learned during my summer internship in Reading, Pennsylvania. I am proud of the work I completed in Rio, and I'm so happy to be able to share it with you.