Tuesday, June 5, 2007

How It Began

I have wanted to be a nonprofit, international physician for as long as I can remember, but this is hard to do without a medical degree. Or at least to do it well. However, a main part of wanting to become a physician rose from my desire to help others personally as well as to be able to start a snowball of caring. In my search for a summer project, I wanted to do something in developing countries where I had dreamed of working for so long. I also wanted to be able to make a difference to both my immediate community, MIT, and to the world. I never dreamed that my interest in photography would show me the way to the perfect project.

It didn't start off easily. I applied to a fellowship in India and was rejected, devastating me and bringing me down to feel that I was inadequate and unable to follow my dreams. If I couldn't even get this one fellowship, how could I become a physician and help the world? But being turned down from an interesting project opened a door for me towards the perfect project for me. A project that would let me make a huge, lasting impact on MIT, give back to the world, allow me to observe not one, but many different cultures, and give me an artistic way to approach many different problems.

The idea began as a seedling, a branch of my proposals to adjust and enhance the India fellowship by using my photojournalism experience to document the work being done by the fellowship participants and using it as advertising for the service organizations funding the rehabilitation clinics that were being formed. The seedling quickly sprouted as I realized that my photojournalism could go beyond advertising for the cause, but could also serve to celebrate the students' achievements, teach the MIT community about the problems in other countries, and motivate others to get up and volunteer themselves. Despite a lot of international development work being done by the MIT community, a lot of the work goes unrecognized by both MIT and the world around it. Here was a way to spread the word!

And thus the planning began. With about 1 month to raise funds and complete the planning process for my project, I met with deans, heads of departments, counselors, and more. The Public Service Center was the first to jump up to support me, Ms. Sally Susnowitz and Ms. Alison Hynd beind point contacts for me to go for guidance and assistance. I faced many obstacles along the way; there were holes in my plans and lack of funds at the end of the fiscal year. However, with persistance and a lot of editing and getting advice, I raised a total of $10,000 dollars from the Public Service Center, the Edgerton Lab, and the Deans of Student Life. Working with the Arts Department, I am currently applying for a grant that cannot be processed until July 1, and will be submitting an application to have my work displayed in the Weisner Gallery in the Student Center.

My work will be used in a view book produced by the Public Service Center to be laid out permanently in the student center, libraries, and various other centers throughout campus to provide a visual source that members of the MIT community can look through to see pictures of different social and political issues around the world and of MIT students doing something about it. In addition to the photographs, I will also be doing reporting and more opinion writing about my own experiences. The majority of the reporting will be done while I am photographing, interviewing community members as well as the MIT students about the issues at hand. The MIT students will also be interviewed for questions such as why they became interested in this cause and how they first started getting involved in working in international development.

2 comments:

Jerry Lee Gomez said...

i have to make this brief....somehow i inadvertenly landed on your site / blog and have been reading it backwards following your trip...it started out of curosity and now ive been mesmerized by your depth and perception of your experiences.....I'm in San Antonio, Texas....its 1 a.m. and i have to get up early...i don't want to lose your postings as you are a scrolling angelic soul. It's comforting to know God has placed you there to make a difference....however large or small that might be...he sent his Best!

Bless you Christina!

Jerry

Keep me posted...zymog@msn.com

Wendi said...

Wow.