A Q&A With Experimenter Chloe, Our 2017 Impact Report Photographer

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World Learning’s 2017 Impact Report cover. Photo by Chloe.

Chloe had never left Idaho before she packed her bags last summer and flew to India for six weeks of exploration and intensive training on critical global issues through The Experiment Leadership Institute. As photo editor of her high school yearbook, Chloe knew she couldn’t travel without her camera. That turned out to be lucky for World Learning.

During our India: Community Development & Public Health program, Chloe captured the striking image of a young woman that graces the cover of World Learning’s 2017 Impact Report. The woman seems determined. Confident. Strong. Kind. It was the perfect photograph to introduce this year’s theme that explores all the ways in which World Learning reimagines leadership around the world.

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Chloe, Experiment Leadership Institute participant

Chloe herself is one of those emerging leaders. She traveled on a full scholarship — all Experiment Leadership Institute participants are fully funded through World Learning’s generous donor network — and with an eye toward understanding other cultures and making a difference. At 17 years old, she’s contemplating a future in international relations and working in developing countries. “I want to help people,” she says.

In the following Q&A, read more about Chloe’s time in India and how she met the woman on the cover of World Learning’s 2017 Impact Report:

How did you meet the woman in this photograph?

My group was spending five days in Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, near the end of our month-long stay in India. One of those days we visited a place housing many young women and girls who were receiving the opportunity for a higher education from a local NGO. We met two groups of girls that day: one from nearby villages who had dropped out of school and a second group from the jungle, where there was no opportunity to go to high school after finishing their primary education. Here, they had a place to live and a chance to finish their education.

Who is she?

In truth, I do not know the woman in this photo. I met her, danced with her, laughed with her, and spoke to her — though she knew little English and I knew little Hindi — but I don’t know her. I wish I did. She is fierce, and brave, and I will forever be inspired by the few hours I did spend with her and her peers.

Why did you choose to photograph her this way, portrait-style?

Once I had my camera out of the bag, all the girls wanted pictures — portraits, groups, selfies. I have so many others from that day, most of them not very in focus, but all very memorable. This particular young woman — I was just so enraptured by her beauty and the depth in her eyes. I asked if I could take her photo and she fell into pose like she’d been modeling for ages.

What were you thinking when you took the photo?

I’m positive I won’t forget the energy and light I felt in that room from when we arrived until the second we drove away. The week prior, when I was living with my host family, I spent a lot of time taking pictures with my host sister. I brought my camera with me here, took it out, and then proceeded to have an impromptu photoshoot with about 15 girls.

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Chloe visited the Taj Mahal as part of her Experiment Leadership Institute experience.

What were some of the other highlights of your journey to India?

My journey to India was full of brighter moments, more challenging moments, and ones that I’ll never forget — but one of the main highlights was definitely when we visited with these girls.

I don’t know the individual young woman in the picture I took, but every time I look at that photo I realize she embodies every girl in that room with the sky-blue walls and pure happiness in the air. That photo is the first one I show people back home when they ask about my trip to India, and when I tell them about the incredible people I met there, the inspirational women I saw nearly every day.

What did your Experiment trip mean to you?

My Experiment trip means everything to me. It was by far the best six weeks I’ve had at this point in my life. I didn’t only learn about the program’s focus (community development and public health) but my perception of basically everything has changed since I have returned home. I’ve made lifelong friends I still talk to nearly every day and met many influential people who still inspire me.

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