Thursday, January 12, 2012

Giving Back

I just got this email today:

Hello Rachel

I stumbled unpon your blog today and absolutely LOVE it am Ghanaian myself and  currently live in London so it was quite refreshin gto read up on your adventures sounds like you had a blast....your page lead me to your face book also beautiful pictures am so impressed.  Wasn't quite sure are you in the states??

This is not the first comment I have had like this.  It is so nice to see that the work I did in Ghana not only benefited me, but also others, including Ghanaians, who have found my blog. So far I have had over 15,000 page views since this blog was created, the vast majority came after my experience in the field. Yet because of the blog medium I chose to record my research in, I am able to give back and continue my learning process by engaging in discussion with others still interested in my topic.

In addition, my 2011 Inquiry Conference presentation was accepted to this year's NCUR Conference at Weber this year.  I applied last minute, but out of 3,500 submissions, mine was one of the abstracts accepted.  I am excited to further share what I have done on this blog with an academic community.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Shara: Connecting from India

On my India blog, I have talked about some of the people I was able to connect with in the field.  Shara was an awesome find!  She has a great idea for a new project she is starting, and could use some support!  I just got this facebook message from her last week and thought I would include it on this blog:

Hi Rachel. How are you doing back in school? Adjusted from the awesome life of a traveler? :-):-) Just wanted you to know that I am launching a kickstarter project for a book I want to publish of writing and photography. It was thinking about your avatar concept about how we see the world differently with different parts of our personality and careers that gave me kind of an epiphany about how I document the world. When I write, I write about all the sadness and suffering and that's what I "see" in words. When I photograph, I shoot postcard-type images, the beautiful things whether it's architecture or nature and I see beauty in image. My book idea is to balance this duality. So anyway, know that your project really had an impact on me and mine. I'll be launching it next week, but I have a FAQ online if you're interested in checking it out. Once it's live (hopefully next week), if you feel inspired to share it with your friends, I wouldn't complain. :-):-)

Monday, May 30, 2011

A New Blog for India!


If you have been following my experiences in Ghana, you might also be interested in tagging along for my India adventure.  

I am continuing to explore some of the themes I was discovering with in Ghana, particularly the avatars, but this time around I am hoping to do more with the connecting side of blogging.  I will be doing most of my updates on this new blogg:

I'd love to hear from you!


My Prezi Presentation from the 2011 Inquiry Conference

As I have mentioned before, I presented at the BYU Inquiry Conference this year about my experience in Ghana.  My actual recorded presentation is not yet available (from what I can gather), but I thought I would imbed my Prezi presentation if anyone was interested.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Take" a Picture: How Photography can be a Vehicle for Peace

I wrote this paper for my Pen and the Sword honors civilizations class at BYU.  We had the opportunity to write about anything we wanted to talk about from the semester.  We had spent class one day talking about visual representation of war, and it got me really thinking about some of the lessons I learned about photography while on my field study in Ghana in the summer of 2011.  These lessons I explored through Myra, my photographer avatar, or the way I chose to mediate my experience on that given day.  I just thought including this paper here would be a nice conclusion on some of the thoughts I have about photographic representation and the ethical dilemma I ran into.
“Take” A Picture:
How Photography can be a Vehicle for Peace
            On March 29, 1993 Kevin Carter’s infamous photograph, an emaciated child being stalked by a vulture (Appendix 1), showed up in the New York Times to document the civil war going on in Sudan (Lorchspecial A3).The response from the readers was overwhelming.People from all over the world called in wondering who the starving child was, what happened to her, and why the photographer did not help her.  A few months later, just after winning the prestigious Puzzler Prize for the image, Carter committed suicide at the age of 33, unable to live with the things that he had seen and photographed in his troubled world (Macleod).
            There are many benefits associated with photography that other mediums do not offer so readily.  However, if we look at Carter’s story, the ethics of photographic representation are seriously called into question.  On one side of the issue, we have the irate callers who blamed Carter for not saving the girl and for so heartlessly abandoning her, but on the other side we have the overwhelming response in general to an article that might not have been given a second glance had there been no photograph of the crisis in Sudan.  This story is a useful example of the current tension that seems so representative of the field of photography, and it is a conflict I have certainly experienced personally as a professional photographer.  Despite these concerns, I argue that photography can be an extremely viable medium to bring about peace, but only if certain limitations are acknowledged and fundamental rules observed.  First, a photograph must be recognized within its limitations and problems as a medium, and second, we need to understand what the process is to improve the authenticity of a photograph and ethically represent the subjects.  Last, I will address my personal experience as a photographer dealing with these tensions.  By coming to terms with these three points, we can better understand how and why photography can be used to bring peace and raise awareness. 

Wish You Did Awesome Things? You CAN!

People tell me all of the time that they are jealous of my awesome field study adventures.  Why?  What I think that most people do not realize is that can do it too!

 Field studies is an ISP program at BYU that encourages student owned learning, inquiry based research.  It allows ambitious students to design their own faculty mentored research or creative projects according to their own majors and interests in order to get academic credit that actually helps them towards graduation and grad school.  It is by far one of the cheapest international study opportunities on campus, and it has certainly been the best learning experience that I have had during my undergraduate education.

Field Studies have several programs available for students, but currently they are looking for good applicants for fall 2011.  The programs they are looking to fill are Mexico, Ghana (yay!), or an Individual Field Study.  An Individual Program allows anyone with good qualifications, cultural understanding, and language skills to go anywhere on the BYU approved travel list to do their own research or creative project.  It is an awesome deal.   

Seriously, going to Ghana was one of the best experiences not just of my undergraduate experience, but of my life.  Here on this blog you can explore what it is I experienced and the journey I took to get there, but what I want more than anything is to let people know that this is an opportunity available to anyone—married and single people, undergraduates and graduates alike. 

To see what other students have done within your area of study or a location you are interested in, check out the field study blog!

If you have any further questions, I would be happy to answer them.  You can also contact Field Studies directly to meet, or attend the next information meeting. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Truth About Larium...

I wrote this post on my personal blog, but the more I think about it, the more I think it belongs here.  If you are looking for an anti-malarial, make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.
Almost a year ago, I went into a doctor to be put on an anti-malarial medication before going to Ghana.  He insisted that I go on a drug called Larium (Mefloquine).  Having heard various horror stories associated with the drug, I questioned him and proposed the various less risky drugs (Doxycycline, etc).  Again he claimed that Larium was the better option.  I was not too convinced, but I went with it.

The side effects were almost immediate.  From the ridiculously long list of possible problems, I was subject to extremely vivid dreams, mood swings, thoughts about death, "bizarre behavior," and once, a hallucination.  Considering the rest of them, I lucked out.  

What I did not know?  That the drug is going to stick with me.  Sure I cannot give blood for 10 years, but will I have nightmares for the same amount of time?  Why didn't I know about this?

Confused by why I am still not sleeping without riding dinosaurs, hashing out failed relationships, fighting the Hindu goddess Kali, or escaping genocide, I decided to look up some reviews.  Here is a less than comforting list of some of the comments:

Do not take this drug. It is poison.

I took it in 1998 for a trip to South America. Started having sleepless nights, memory loss and getting terrifying hallucinations but didn't even consider it to be conneceted because I wasn't warned about any side effects by the doctor. Then developed depression and spent hours lying in a dark room feeling like killing myself. Was prescribed Prozac, but the doctor still didn't mention any connection to Larium. It wasn't until I mentioned to a friend who told me about Larium that I checked on the web and started ticking off the side effects that I realised what had happened. Larium nearly destroyed my marriage. If I owned a gun I would be dead by now. The serious side effects lasted at leats six or seven years but I still get the odd hallucination and my short term memory is still affected. DON'T TAKE IT. USE SOMETHING ELSE

No question it can help prevent malaria but it may also destroy your life. Roche Pharmacueticles updated the drug literature 4 times since I took this drug. Little too late.....