Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China
In my second year of my Bachelors of Science in Geography at Slippery Rock University, I was a member of a student research team. We were studying irrigation and well systems specified as karez in western Xinjiang, China. Throughout the school year, we built a GIS database of the karez systems around the city of Turpan and hoped to interview locals about the sustainability of the wells. For three weeks we traveled across the changing landscapes of China and visited the cities of Urumqi, Shahezi, Illi, Corla, and Turpan. Although we were unable to complete as many interviews as we hoped, it was an incredible cultural experience to be in Western China. I fell in love with the Uyghur peoples' warm hospitality, powerful stories, and spicy cooking. As a photographer, it was an honor to capture their livelihoods and kindness with my camera. This experience sparked my interest in photojournalism and showed me the power a camera can hold in fostering a connection between people who live on opposite sides of the world. Below is a collection of images I took of people living in the western parts of China and their rugged individualism.