Matador talks with Glimpse Editor in Chief Kerala Taylor on the upcoming Glimpse Correspondents Program

There’s this emerging generation of young people who feel an increased sense of global responsibility, and what we’re trying to do is identify the leaders of that generation and provide them a space to share their stories and to connect with other young people. In that way we’re trying to drive the movement forward.

–Kerala Taylor, Glimpse Editor in Chief

FOR THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS I’ve been in touch with Kerala Taylor, Editor in Chief at Glimpse, and was stoked to talk to her about their Correspondents Program.

Overall, the Correspondents Program is for especially talented students specializing in writing or photography. Correspondents receive a $600 stipend, a professional editor, career training in writing and photography, guaranteed publication on Glimpse.org, and potential publication in National Geographic platforms.

[David] How has this year’s program changed since the pilot program in spring 2008?

[Kerala] The program has evolved quite a bit since spring 2008. For one, we know what we’re doing now. We always knew that we had a great concept on our hands, but it’s taken a while to figure out exactly what we’re looking for in an ideal candidate, how to tailor the requirements around a Correspondent’s work or studies abroad, how to best keep in touch with our Correspondents and provide feedback, and how to make sure that the work they produce gets the attention it deserves.

Almost everyone who’s participated in the program says that one of the best parts is developing a working relationship with an editor. We no longer communicate with our Correspondents exclusively via email — we also schedule regular video chats with them, which help us get to know our Correspondents and talk through story ideas.

Past participants have also commented that they love having incentive to push their comfort zones, get out there, and talk to people. More and more, we’re looking for candidates who are outgoing and adventurous, and who have inventive ideas for how to meaningfully immerse themselves in the culture — whether that means developing a dance-based gender equity campaign in Malawi (like our Correspondent Rebecca Jacobson), wrestling cod with Icelandic fishermen (like Ben Black), or staying in a hippie commune in Argentina (like Julie Turkewitz).

Our goal with this program, simply put, is to find up-and-coming writers and photographers who are starting out their careers, and to give them a taste of what it’s like to work with professional editors, to craft a compelling story, and to have their work highlighted.

We’ve also made a few adjustments to the requirements of the program. It was originally open only to U.S. or Canadian citizens between the ages of 18 and 30. We’ve since expanded our definition of “young adult” to span ages 18-34, and have opened the program to people of any citizenship, as long as they’re traveling/living outside of their home country.

Many people — particularly frustrated 35-year-olds — ask why we have an age restriction at all. Our goal with this program, simply put, is to find up-and-coming writers and photographers who are starting out their careers, and to give them a taste of what it’s like to work with professional editors, to craft a compelling story, and to have their work highlighted. That’s not to say we don’t value the opinions or readership of people outside our target demographic–we very much do. It’s just to say that we want to give a voice to those young people who we see as leaders of the “Global Generation.”

Can you talk a little more about the Glimpse / HTH Worldwide Health Correspondent position?

This is a new position that we’re offering in conjunction with HTH Worldwide, a global health insurance company. Healthcare is such a prominent issue — just look at our current health care debate — and there are so many young adults who are exploring, contributing to, and learning from other health care systems around the world.

This is a chance for them to share their stories. The requirements are the same as the general Correspondents Program, except that the work our Health Correspondent produces will be related to their experiences in a health-related field.

What impact has being a Correspondent had on people’s careers?

We love keeping in touch with past Correspondents. Since we only launched the program a couple of years ago, it’s still a bit early to say how it’s impacted people’s careers, but many have gone on to pursue related work and feel that being a Correspondent has given them a leg up. Pete Muller, a past photo Correspondent in Uganda, just co-organized a show here in DC with a Magnum photographer and displayed many of his photos that we’ve featured on our site.

Dave Kelbe, a past Correspondent in New Zealand just saw one of his photos featured on the homepage of NationalGeographic.com, and Adam Lichtenheld, a Correspondent alum in Jordan, received a Scoville Peace Fellowship this past spring.

Is it worth applying if you haven’t already published work professionally?

Yes! We look for talent, first and foremost, and the program is specifically tailored to people who are just starting out in their careers. Experience is important — through classes, internships, jobs, or extracurricular activities — but prior publication is not required.

How are the applications so far? Any special advice for applicants?

We’ve just started to review the applications for our Spring 2010 and are excited by what we see. A few hundred people have started applications, and we expect to receive anywhere between 500 and 1,000 applications by the Nov. 8 deadline. Since we’ll be selecting 10 applicants, it’s certainly a competitive program, but please don’t let that deter you from applying. If you’re a strong writer or photographer and are committed to actively engaging with your host culture, you have a good shot!

Applicants should make sure to put some time into your statement of interest — these statements are one of the first things we look at to screen out applicants for our second round of judging. If a statement is hastily written and/or full of typos, chances are, you’re not going to make the cut. Also, keep in mind that the statement is your primary opportunity for us to get to know you, so if it’s cold and generic, you’re not going to jump out at us as an interesting person who is capable of pursuing interesting stories.

Oh, and please don’t start by telling us that traveling is your passion. We already assume that, and it’s just about the least intriguing way to start a statement of interest. Here are some great opening lines from the statements of past Correspondents:

  • “I was crammed into a small, stuffy Internet café in Oaxaca City, looking at bus schedules and imagining the parasites setting up camp in my belly, when I opened the email.”
  • “Not many reporters can say they’ve had a former president as an editor.”

  • “We tend to underestimate the power of the past.”

We offer more helpful tips on preparing a successful application on our Facebook fan page.

Community Connection

For more information, please check out the Glimpse Correspondents Program here, and remember that the deadline to apply is Nov 8, 2009.

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