A Return from Rio

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.

 Coleman Gibb cheers for his brother Jake Gibb at the U.S. Men's Beach Volleyball game against Spain at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 10, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Coleman Gibb cheers for his brother Jake Gibb at the U.S. Men's Beach Volleyball game against Spain at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 10, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Sammie Hill (left) and Zach Beattie (right) of Washington, D.C., cheer at the U.S. Men's Beach Volleyball game against Spain at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 10, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Sammie Hill (left) and Zach Beattie (right) of Washington, D.C., cheer at the U.S. Men's Beach Volleyball game against Spain at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 10, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Bruno (left), 7, Leticia (right), 13, and their father Joaquin take in the view atop Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 4, 2016. The family is from Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Bruno (left), 7, Leticia (right), 13, and their father Joaquin take in the view atop Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 4, 2016. The family is from Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Paul Fernandez of St. Louis, MS, lures a lemur with a lollipop on Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 4, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Paul Fernandez of St. Louis, MS, lures a lemur with a lollipop on Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 4, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Brazilian native Vladimir De Souza is decked out in an outfit made up of the Brazilian flag and an inflatable Olympic torch at the Opening Ceremony celebration at Olympic Boulevard in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Brazilian native Vladimir De Souza is decked out in an outfit made up of the Brazilian flag and an inflatable Olympic torch at the Opening Ceremony celebration at Olympic Boulevard in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Benedict Hermano of Rio and Anna Olivera of Manaus entertain parents and children at the Opening Ceremony celebration at Olympic Boulevard in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Benedict Hermano of Rio and Anna Olivera of Manaus entertain parents and children at the Opening Ceremony celebration at Olympic Boulevard in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Tourists take photographs at the Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Tourists take photographs at the Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Military guards keep watch at the Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Military guards keep watch at the Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Denilza Rodrigues Dutua of Manaus and her son, Daniel, 5, pose with the Brazilian flag at the Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Denilza Rodrigues Dutua of Manaus and her son, Daniel, 5, pose with the Brazilian flag at the Statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 5, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Erik Leal Temporal, 4, and his sister Melissa, 3, of Rio de Janeiro, play in the sand near the Olympic Rings at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 7, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Erik Leal Temporal, 4, and his sister Melissa, 3, of Rio de Janeiro, play in the sand near the Olympic Rings at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 7, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Roberto Patriota and Thamyus Sihra take a photo with the Olympic Rings at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 7, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Roberto Patriota and Thamyus Sihra take a photo with the Olympic Rings at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 7, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 José Geraldo Da Silva celebrates his Olympic spirit at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 7, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

José Geraldo Da Silva celebrates his Olympic spirit at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 7, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Katie Miller sits atop Rachel Wardley's shoulders while holding an American flag during the Today Show broadcast at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 8, 2016. The women travelled from Washington, D.C., with their friend Rosemary Wardley. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Katie Miller sits atop Rachel Wardley's shoulders while holding an American flag during the Today Show broadcast at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 8, 2016. The women travelled from Washington, D.C., with their friend Rosemary Wardley. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Olympic volunteers dance to pop music at the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 8, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Olympic volunteers dance to pop music at the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 8, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Olive Costa and his daughter Victoria, 7, cheer while his wife, Antomia Costa, holds up a Brazilian flag in support of a Brazilian judo player at the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 8, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Olive Costa and his daughter Victoria, 7, cheer while his wife, Antomia Costa, holds up a Brazilian flag in support of a Brazilian judo player at the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 8, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 A woman dances the Passinho at Parque Madureira in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 13, 2016. This type of dance is similar to hip-hop and twerking in the United States. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

A woman dances the Passinho at Parque Madureira in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 13, 2016. This type of dance is similar to hip-hop and twerking in the United States. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Mateus Deodoro, 7, flies a kite in the favela that he lives in in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 12, 2016. The children build their own kites and attempt to catch their friends' kites in order to win the game. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Mateus Deodoro, 7, flies a kite in the favela that he lives in in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 12, 2016. The children build their own kites and attempt to catch their friends' kites in order to win the game. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 Gabriel Ignacio, 6, flies a kite in the favela that he lives in in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 12, 2016. The children build their own kites and attempt to catch their friends' kites in order to win the game. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

Gabriel Ignacio, 6, flies a kite in the favela that he lives in in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 12, 2016. The children build their own kites and attempt to catch their friends' kites in order to win the game. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

 A child plays in a mud puddle while friends play soccer in the favela that they live in in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 12, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)

A child plays in a mud puddle while friends play soccer in the favela that they live in in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on August 12, 2016. (Sarah Stier | Ball State at the Games)