17 January 2012


I just submitted to my first ever grant. This feels great!
I realize this image may not mean a lot to you, but trust me when I say it means a lot to me. I never knew 750 words could be so difficult to write but when writing a grant proposal there is a lot of information to be included in those 750 words so it is important to be as precise as possible and use the best language. Seven drafts later, I am presenting you with the final one. With this I hope you now understand what I will be doing after I finish my Peace Corps service in Moldova. In the next couple of months I will be putting together a video which I hope to post on kickstarter and emphas.is to raise funding, in addition to this grant. But before I post the final draft, I would like to say what I learned while writing this.
  • Grant writing takes time. LOTS AND LOTS of it.
  • It is OK to completely start over from scratch more than once.
  • The way sentences are worded can make a world of a difference both in creating a mood and in word count
  • Ask for more than one opinion
  • The more information included, the better
  • BE CONFIDENT. Don't let the readers think you are unsure of yourself and your project, but let's be honest: if you were, you wouldn't be writing the proposal in the first place, right?
  • It is difficult to write captions for photographs
  • When submitting photographs, make sure to read all of the requirements (pixels and dpi)
  • Make sure to read all of the requirements for the resumé. References might be requested
  • Maybe an online Masters degree in photojournalism and documentary photography isn't such a bad idea after all.
And now for the proposal (while I cannot change the proposal that this current time, if you have any suggestions for a future grant proposal I will accept any positive criticism):

Mahatma Gandhi said, “If we are to reach peace in this world… we shall have to begin with the children.” One shared connection among children around the world is school education. Due to its prominence in so many young lives in the classroom, my project holds great potential to promote the kind of peace Gandhi envisioned. The goal of the project is a cultural exchange between the participating schools around the world through photography and social studies. With the dawning of the Internet Age, the world is becoming smaller every day; therefore, it is increasingly important for children to become familiar and culturally aware of the connected world around them by seeing and learning about the similarities and differences of children just like them in the participating schools. When awarded this grant, I will begin with the children in Bangalore, India then travel to Guatemala and Cameroon, staying with families a minimum of two months to show the complete story of education in the life of children. Each photo essay will be the story of one student from each school. I will then return to the schools to showcase the images and stories to the students in an educational interactive presentation.

The culture of teenagers in schools in places like India, Guatemala, and Cameroon seem vastly different on the outside, but really have many similarities. Because I have had limited opportunity to begin the project while in the Peace Corps, I cannot give a proper comparison of the three locations. However, I will compare my high school in middle-class America with a school in rural Moldova. At sixteen, I received a car for my birthday. I woke up early to skip the morning traffic of teenagers and businessmen in the half-mile between my home and school. We used up-to-date science equipment, Smartboards before anyone knew what they were, and teachers remained after hours to answer questions regarding homework. I practiced sports after school, went to work to make money for the latest fashion or weekends at the cinema, ate McDonalds for dinner and raced home to do my homework and chat online. I could not wait for the freedom that came with college.

When a youth turns sixteen in Moldova, they receive a new coat or a smartphone for their birthday. They use the asphalt patch at school to play football; not park cars. Most parents of sixteen-year-olds do not own a car because they do not need one; everything they need is either found in the village or a short mini-bus ride away. They wake up early to walk forty-five minutes to school, and use science equipment from the Soviet times. When the bell rings at 2 p.m., the school empties in minutes as teachers and students rush home to prepare meals for their families. Children help with chores and then use their smartphones or computers to chat with friends online. Their chief entertainment is the Friday night disco, where socializing and dancing takes precedent. They cannot wait to finish the 12th form to work or study abroad, making money for their families.

This is merely a surface-level exploration of school culture in Moldova, and with the assistance of this grant and crowdfunding websites emphas.is and kickstarter, I will begin to properly document different cultures around the world. The constants of my project are the age of the students and public schools in urbanized environments. I will begin in Bangalore, India, living with a family of a high-school student for a minimum two months because children must grow comfortable with the camera in order for a photographer to properly document the environment of a school. The goal of this project is creating peace through cultural awareness within the classroom. Therefore I will be keeping a photo-heavy blog of my journey that non-English speaking students will be able to follow because the images posted will be enough to tell the story. Upon the project’s completion, I will return to the selected locations, putting the images together in an interactive educational slideshow, telling stories, and holding a discussion with the students comparing school cultures around the world. As this project continues, anyone will be able to follow the blog, thus not only creating cultural awareness in the schools where I intend to photograph, but also around the world.

This is a project about cultures, bringing peace to the world through children of the world, and giving back to the people who help me. It begins with the day of the children.

1 comment:

  1. It's going to be awesome as you know and even I sincerely hope you'll get this grant I'm sure you're going to find a way to make it happen somehow if they won't pick you up!

    Keep believing yourself,you'll get what you deserve ~