FOR NEARLY A DECADE, with the mission of sharing stories from abroad that encourage readers to understand and care about other cultures, the Glimpse Correspondents Program has guided emerging writers and photographers to hone their craft, resulting in some of the most exciting long-form narrative work published anywhere.
Taking over from Sarah Menkedick, I’m thrilled to join Glimpse as the program makes an exciting evolution into MatadorU’s travel journalism school as a graduate-level course for exceptionally talented writers, photographers, and filmmakers. Our correspondents will now have the chance to work with MatadorU faculty and collaborate with other students, while continuing to work on their own projects for publication at Matador — all to bring you, our readers, work that is deeper, more relevant, and more compelling than ever.
This fall, Glimpse received several hundred applications; out of these, we’ve selected 10 people whose work transcends the first-person narrative to explore larger social and cultural issues. I’m so pleased to introduce our correspondents — and to give you a taste of what’s in store:
Meg Brauckmann, Guatemala: Our print shop office is a tiny and ugly studio apartment. Between our desks and the file cabinets a constant tug-of-war over space spins us like awkward teenagers at a chaperoned dance—unsure whether to bump and grind or scoot around each other trying to avoid touching. The orange wallpaper peeks out apologetically from behind poster boards, photos, and unframed posters we have tried to dress it in. Pariaba Do Sul, Brasil. Nantahala, North Carolina. Worlds we’ve left behind. How many worlds exist in one person?
Adam Brooks, India: “Conceri be sinin. B’i hakili a man di (The concert is tomorrow, and today your mind is no good),” remarked my teacher. I’d never had an instructor as blunt as Babily. Sweat ran from my palms down the cowhide sound table as I struggled to keep good hold of the kora. I’d played “Kele A Man Ni” (War is Bad) more times than I could count, but on this particular afternoon it just didn’t sound right. I came to Mali with the romantic notion of learning the kora from a griot, a traditional and highly respected musician. Such would be the most admirable way to learn, I thought, not realizing the tremendous challenge that awaited me.
Brenna Daldorph, France: When volunteers found the body of this fourteen-year-old girl at the end of nowhere, her shoes pointed them in the right direction. The shoes sat on the trail, bright red, distinctive. She was found in the gorge where I now sat. She was shoeless, her bare feet in the water. I had come to Arizona as a student volunteer for an alternative spring break, wanting to understand the experience of thousands of migrants who attempt to cross the desert in search of a better life. I now stood with other volunteers, silent as we heard her story.
Alice Driver, Mexico: That morning, during my daily commute, he unzipped his black backpack and scattered its contents on the floor of the metro car. The shards of glass sparkled like fake diamonds under the harsh florescent lights as he stripped off his shirt and threw himself onto the floor. The chaparrito, short and muscular, began to roll vigorously over the glass, pressing his flesh into the shards. He stood up, bowed, and, with a back blooming tiny roses of blood, proceeded to ask for money. When the early morning crowd didn’t rain coins upon him, he became angry, picked up a piece of glass, and pressed it to his muscular arm. Would the threat of more blood make money flow?
Molly Ferrill, Myanmar: The small woman in front of me stirred a steaming pot of soup as she spoke. The steam curled slowly upwards toward the rusting roof of her small kitchen and filled the room with the warm smell of unknown spices. Outside, the forest hissed with the sound of nighttime insects. I tried to picture Doña Vilma in the jungle, a rifle slung over her shoulder. Her tiny frame and neat skirt made her look deceivingly docile in her household role, but her eyes burned with an incredible intensity. She was a fighter.
Sarah Shaw, South Korea: Dahae once told me that she loved her parents, but she hated being Korean. She felt oppressed as a female in her own culture. Sometimes, she would sit on the floor naked, leaning against one of the bottom bunks, burning a short, brown stick on her abdomen, held in place by acupuncture needles. As the stick smoldered on her stomach, her bones would protrude from her narrow frame, and I could easily count her ribs. Later I learned that she was healing herself with an ancient Asian form of heat therapy called moxibustion. It wasn’t exactly beautiful, but I would stare because I couldn’t physically turn away.
Kristen Zipperer, Nepal: The area was filled with caricatures of stock characters: bandits and leaders of rogue gangs, mafia and smugglers, farmers and opportunistic businessmen, an incorruptible sheriff and hordes of eager yellow journalists. Rather than just anthropological research, the chaotic and poetic universe I found there seemed at times apt as well as a sort of surreal frontier-Western novella layered with Cold War era-style undercurrents of intrigue.
Marty Stano, Chile: Everything I need to make a story I can carry in my backpack on my own two feet. Check out Marty’s awesome Alaska road trip video at right.
Alex Potter, Lebanon: Ever since my travels as an early teen, I knew I wanted to connect people in some way—to build bridges and bring to light stories that are rarely heard on a personal level. I grew up in rural Minnesota, the oldest daughter in a farming family. As a child I enjoyed the freedom, as a teen I scorned the isolation, but as a young adult, I am proud to come from a place where people still pour their heart and soul into the land.
Jeff Ball, Ukraine: In Ukraine right now, remnants of a bloody and difficult past are mixing with the beginnings of a modern European country. Ukraine could begin a period of change, become a part of the EU—or those hopes could be crushed in the continuation of a very difficult history.
Thanks again to all our applicants, and we can’t wait to start sharing the Correspondents’ stories with you soon!
Jenny D. Williams
Director Glimpse Graduate Program, MatadorU
[Editor’s note: In the months ahead we’ll be launching a new landing page for the Glimpse Graduate program at MatadorU. Please stay tuned.]