I started last semester as a Cellular and Molecular Biology major, a vestige of my pre-med days. Then, as I do most semesters, I found myself going to eight classes a day “just to see”. One of those classes was on documentary photography. That was the beginning of the end. My sister and I had done environmental research during the summer of 2015 in China and had agreed to meet in India summer of 2016. By some surreal coordination we both elected to make a go at journalism and over the course of a weekend we decided that we would do an environmental documentary, applied for grants, and sketched out a plan to spend 4 months documenting what buying imported products really means for the environment and what impact it has on humans.
SiSA was the first to fund our project and when that email arrived the whole plan, including the significant life path adjustment for both of us that went along with it, went from “wouldn’t it be cool if…” to something that was actually happening. It’s hard to describe how it feels to have all you’re dreams and plans for your future dissolve to make way for another path. I’d spent countless hours since high school imagining my life as a doctor, thinking about what that would mean, researching med schools, downloading MCAT apps, talking to doctors, watching videos of surgeries, only to have it fade away into something I used to want to do.
I can’t say how excited I am to try my hand at something that may become what I do with my life. The opportunity to go dig deeper into the human and environmental costs of habits that I and I think many others in the U.S. take for granted feels important in a way that nothing I’ve done up to this point in my life. That’s not to say this project will be so important but just that it’s a small step in a direction that I’d feel proud following for the rest of my life.