Blog Post

Breaking Taboos about Menstruation in Uganda by Kate Lord

Congratulations to Esther and Dorcus, She's the First Scholars in Uganda, for earning a 2017 Mentor Breakfast award!

Esther is a 5th grader at the Arlington Academy of Hope (AAH) in rural Uganda. She's become skilled in performing songs, dance, and poetry, and shows her leadership at school assemblies where she can lead her classmates in all three.

Dorcus is a 7th grader at AAH. She is head speaker at her school, giving a voice to her class whenever needed, and also loves to participate in the school choir and debate team.

Together, they led a service project in which they taught women and girls from their community how to make reusable sanitary pads. In the process, they sparked conversations about feminine hygiene and the reproductive system and broke taboos around menstruation.

NYU Prison Education Program Celebrates First Graduation by Kate Lord

In my new role as a photographer for NYU, I had the opportunity to capture the very first graduation of the NYU Prison Education Program. I truly admire the hard work and dedication of these students and the staff and faculty who have put this program together!

My heart hurts. by Kate Lord

Never_Stop_Believing_HRC.jpg

My heart hurts.

What do we do now? We support those marginalized by this election in every way we can. Here's a list of organizations for which we should all donate our time and money:

RAINN: RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

Planned Parenthood: Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.

ACLU: For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

NAACP: Our mission is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. 

Define American: Define American is a nonprofit media and culture organization that uses the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship in a changing America.

Muslim American Society: The primary purpose of our Public Affairs and Civic Engagement program is to conduct public relations, educate and mobilize the American Muslim community to participate in public affairs and civic activities on a non-partisan bases, and to energize a new generation of community activists.

GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBT acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love.

Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund: TLDEF is committed to ending discrimination based upon gender identity and expression and to achieving equality for transgender people through public education, test-case litigation, direct legal services, and public policy efforts.

Southern Poverty Law Center: We monitor hate groups and other extremists throughout the United States and expose their activities to the public, the media and law enforcement. 

Stand with Standing Rock: The Oceti Sakowin Camp is a historic gathering of tribes, allies and people from all walks of life standing in solidarity to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline.

UNHCR: USA for UNHCR helps to save, protect and rebuild the lives of millions of refugees and others forced to flee their homes due to violence and conflict.

International Rescue Committee: The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future. 

Refugee Transitions: Refugee Transitions is a community-based nonprofit agency serving high-need, low-income refugee, asylee, and immigrant newcomers from over 50 countries. 

Please take the time to look at your local organizations that are confronting the issues this election has dragged into the light.

"When they go low, we go high." - Michelle Obama

Hugs.

#imSTILLwithher

Dorm in the Andes Enables Girls to Attend School by Kate Lord

Visual Storytelling to Build Your Brand - via Forbes! by Kate Lord

Let your impact speak for itself. Video and photography are very powerful mediums for this. Photojournalism has been critical to She’s the First. I can’t imagine where the organization would be without Kate Lord, the humanitarian journalist who has captured our Scholars’ smiles and stories through her lens.
— - Tammy Tibbetts, Founder & CEO of She's the First

When Tammy Tibbetts, the founder and CEO of my client She's the First, was interviewed by Forbes about how the organization built her brand, she mentioned my storytelling as a key step! Read the full article here.

2013 in Review by Kate Lord

2013 was a truly significant year for my business, and for me personally. This year, I took a giant leap and left my job as a photo editor at The Wall Street Journal to follow my dream of telling positive and uplifting stories full-time. I traveled to Africa for the first time with She's the First, the nonprofit closest to my heart. I was chosen as the Wild Sister of the Year. I continued to shoot for The Wall Street Journal as a freelancer. My short film was chosen for three film festivals. I started working with exciting new clients. And I got engaged to my best friend!

I've been surrounded by such supportive friends and family, been boosted by my freelance community, and received so much positivity from my clients. THANK YOU to everyone who has helped and rallied for me this year. I can't wait to tell more stories of inspiring people in 2014!

Magho (Daughter), the short film I shot and co-directed with Christen Brandt, premiered in NYC on March 21. The film was presented by She's the First. It's since been accepted to three film festivals. We'll be releasing the film to the public in 2014!

Aditi dances at her Raas Garba in Princeton, NJ in May.

created my second gala video for Coro New York Leadership Center in May, celebrating the impact the organization has on the city.

Charity listens to her mentor during Kisa class in Tanzania. Charity is a She's the First Scholar; I traveled with She's the First to East Africa in September and October to document the lives of their students.

Eli is a She's the First Scholar and recent high school graduate; she hopes to attend college in the US! We shot a video profile of Eli which will be released early 2014; stay tuned!

We made a quick safari stop in Tanzania - so beautiful!

Vianca, left, makes "angry kitten faces" with her fellow first-graders at the Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi, Kenya. Vianca is also a She's the First Scholar.

Jesca, a She's the First Scholar and third-grader at Arlington Academy of Hope in Uganda, presents to her class. 

Arlington Academy of Hope in Uganda is a partner of She's the First.

Bess, a She's the First Scholar in Eastern Uganda, with her step-mom and dad. She has the brightest and best smile I've ever seen!!

In Ethiopia, I met Sintayehu, an incredibly inspiring 18-year-old who lives and studies with the Selamta Family Project, and is a She's the First Scholar. 

Emuye (right), a She's the First Scholar, poses with her house brother in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Amateur boxers Christina Nicodema v. Stephanie Kent duke it out on Nov. 14 in NYC for Haymakers for Hope, a nonprofit that raises funding for cancer research. 

I was chosen to shoot the 2013 New York Community Trust-New York Magazine Nonprofit Excellence Awards in November. The Children's Village, a nonprofit that supports vulnerable children and their families, won top honors.

My friend Rachel Hofstetter launched her book, "Cooking Up a Business: Lessons from Food Lovers Who Turned Their Passion into a Career -- and How You Can, Too."

I met some amazing ladies (and gents!) this year shooting head shots!

Amy Dixon, a visually impaired sommelier and triathlete, gets kisses from her guide dog Elvis at the YMCA at Greenwich in Connecticut in December. This was my favorite freelance editorial assignment of the year, shot for The Wall Street Journal; Amy is training for several championship competitions next year, including the USA Paratriathlon National Championship and the PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championships.

Happy New Year! Bring on a bright 2014!

My First Film Festival as a Filmmaker by Kate Lord

This weekend, I attended my first film festival as a filmmaker. Magho (Daughter)  -- the short documentary for which I was co-director, director of cinematography and editor -- was shown at the Asheville Cinema Festival in the mountains of North Carolina. 

Magho (Daughter) follows 18-year-old Maheshwari during her last week of high school leading up to her graduation. She comes from India's "untouchable" caste and is the first person in her family to study past the eighth grade. In the 11 minute film, Mahesh reflects on her life at home, her future and her relationship with her mother. 

My co-director (and the film's producer) Christen Brandt and I came down from New York and arrived the night before our screening. When we opened the local paper, The Asheville Citizen-Times, we found our film listed as one of the 10 films to see at the festival!

We really enjoyed seeing other films in the festival, and our only regret is that we missed films we really wanted to see because our schedule was packed!

Our film played in the first block of short documentary films, and we were able to answer questions from the audience about our experience. They were curious about the production process, how we'd selected Maheshwari as our star, and where we want to take the film next. 

It was wonderful to introduce our film to a totally new audience and to present girls' education as a solution to global poverty. Maheshwari's story shows the power of education to transform a family. I'm so happy that we were able to bring Mahesh's voice to Asheville and share her strength, perseverance and compassion with a larger audience.

 

Magho Selected for Asheville Cinema Festival! by Kate Lord

Magho (Daughter), the short documentary I co-directed with Christen Brandt, has been selected for Asheville Cinema Festival in Asheville, NC! I'm super excited about this festival because it's in my home state! 

Magho will be screened on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 12:30pm at the Masonic Lodge. Our film will be shown in a block with four other short documentaries, and Christen and I will participate in a Q&A after the screenings.

I'm so excited to bring Magho  to North Carolina! 

 

Photographing + Filming for She's the First in East Africa by Kate Lord

Charity in class in Arusha, Tanzania.
Charity in class in Arusha, Tanzania.

I'm currently traveling through Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, photographing and filming students for She's the First, a nonprofit supporting girls' education worldwide! We're blogging at shesthefirst.org (click the photo above to be redirected), and you can follow my trip on instagram and twitter as well!

Magho Selected for the Silent River Film Festival! by Kate Lord

Magho (Daughter), the short film I made over the past year with Christen Brandt, is an official selection for the 2013 Silent River FilmFestival in Irvine, CA!

The film follows Maheshwari, an 18-year-old girl from India's "untouchable" caste, during her final week of high school. Maheshwari was the first person in her family to move beyond eighth grade and the first high school graduate. Magho documents her graduation day, reflecting back on her home life and her aspiration to become a cardiologist to lift her family out of poverty. 

 

The festival is October 17- 20, so unfortunately Christen and I will miss it because we'll be visiting She's the First's partner organizations in East Africa. If you live in Southern California, swing by to see our film on the big screen!

Y'all, I'm leaping. by Kate Lord

Staff IDs from The Winston-Salem Journal, The Wilmington Star-News, NBC Universal, and The Wall Street Journal
Staff IDs from The Winston-Salem Journal, The Wilmington Star-News, NBC Universal, and The Wall Street Journal

Y'all, I'm leaping into the unknown, and it feels right. Friday was my last day at The Wall Street Journal; I'm officially an entrepreneur and I'm so excited about this adventure!

I started my career working in news in print and on the web, most recently as a photo editor at The Wall Street Journal and as a multimedia producer at NBC Universal. I loved the access afforded to these major organizations, but found that more often than not, we covered a tragedy but weren't able to circle back to tell the stories of the people and organizations striving to make their communities stronger in the aftermath. I chose to head out on my own to find these stories and support the organizations and small businesses behind them.

I'm passionate about helping nonprofits and small businesses craft their visual voice.

I tell stories with photos and video, working with each organization to form a narrative that defines their mission and inspires their audience. I’ve spent time with cloistered nuns in Peru for Sister Cities International, cheered Special Olympic athletes while filming the World Games in China, and documented mother-daughter relationships in an indigenous Mayan region of Guatemala for Starfish One by One. Last year, I made my first short film, "Magho (Daughter)," with She's the First, a nonprofit that sponsors girls' education worldwide.

My first project as a full-time freelancer starts next week - I'm traveling to East Africa to shoot photos and video for She's the First. We'll be visiting their partner programs in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, and talking to the girls about their schoolwork, their families and their aspirations. We'll meet their mothers and explore the differences developing between their own lives and their daughters' due to education. We'll be blogging at shesthefirst.org/blog, and I'll be tweetingand instagramming as often as the internet connection allows!

Thanks so much to everyone who has watched my films, clicked through my photos, and cheered me on while planning my leap. I can't express how much your support has boosted me and given me the confidence to take this step;

I can't wait to share more powerful, inspiring stories with you.

I Won! I'm the First Wild Sister of the Year! by Kate Lord

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13_0713-blogging

I'm sitting here stunned by the outpouring of love and positive wishes I've received over the past two weeks because of two extremely exciting pieces of news!

Firstly, and most relevant to the usual content of this blog, I was chosen as the first everWild Sister of the Year by Wild Sister magazine! Wild Sister is an uplifting publication that encourages women to follow their dreams, believe in themselves, and inspire others to do the same. I was nominated by my dear friend Christen Brandt, the Director of International Operations for She's the First. Christen nominated me because of my photo and video work for the girls' education nonprofit, and I'll be using my winnings to visit East Africa with her to document the lives of She's the First scholars there. These young women are the first in their families to attend secondary school, and I'm so thrilled that I'll be able to help them share their stories. That trip is still in the planning stages, and I'll keep you all posted as we solidify the project.

As part of my award, I received membership to the Wild Sister community. I'm particularly excited about getting started with this sisterhood  - I think surrounding myself with such strong, creative women will really inspire me as I continue to build my storytelling business. Particularly while working at a daily newspaper and working on so many tragic stories, it's wonderful to become part of a community based on positivity and love. I'll also be a contributor to Wild Sister Magazine about my work with nonprofits worldwide - stay tuned!

WSoftheYearbadgeWinner
WSoftheYearbadgeWinner

The past two weeks have also been incredibly exciting for a much more personal reason; after eight years together, my boyfriend Thomas proposed to me on the college campus where we met. (UNC-Chapel Hill - Let's go, Tar Heels!) I am so incredibly thrilled to be spending the rest of my life with my best friend! I've already started thinking about the wedding, and am now finally starting to understand what all my brides and grooms go through before the big day!

Beth Ely, photographer-extraordinaire and one of my best friends in the world, sneakily shot photos during the proposal:

Just after I said YES! (Photo by Beth Ely Photography - if you're in NC, hire this girl!)
Just after I said YES! (Photo by Beth Ely Photography - if you're in NC, hire this girl!)

And so I'm ending this post as I started it: with huge thanks to all my friends and fans who have sent me emails and facebook posts and real-life hugs in the past two weeks. It's been a whirlwind of excitement, and I'm so glad that I'm able to share such great news with all of you!

I'm a Wild Sister of the Year Finalist! by Kate Lord

Wild Sister, an e-magazine about empowerment and inspiring women, has selected me as a finalist for its first Wild Sister of the Year Award! I am beyond excited that my work for nonprofits is being celebrated in this way. But more so, it means so much that Christen Brandt, She's the First's director of international operations, nominated me. I'm so grateful for Christen and She's the First - the organization is not only an amazing client that gives me creative freedom while providing access to AMAZING young women, but Christen has become one of my closest friends. Christen and I have traveled to Guatemala and India together, telling the uplifting stories of the incredible girls we sponsor, and I couldn't ask for a better co-director. She and I are planning our first feature documentary to be shot in East Africa about mother-daughter relationships -- if I win the grand prize, I will use it toward the funding for the film.

The judges will announce the overall winner in July, but I'm also up for the Wild Sister People's Choice Award! I'll keep you all posted on the results!

Screen shot from the Wild Sister finalist page - with a photo of me shooting in India! (photo by Christen Brandt)
Screen shot from the Wild Sister finalist page - with a photo of me shooting in India! (photo by Christen Brandt)

The Amazing Kids of Shanti Bhavan Children's Project by Kate Lord

Preetha, Pushpa, Jancy, me and Prathiba
Preetha, Pushpa, Jancy, me and Prathiba

I can't believe it's been almost a year since I traveled to India to shoot Magho (Daughter) at Shanti Bhavan Children's Project in Tamil Nadu, India! As this year's 12th-graders near graduation, I've been thinking a lot about them and their classmates. The children who attend Shanti Bhavan's residential school (a partner of She's the First) come from families in the dalit, or "untouchable," caste. Had they not been chosen at age four to attend the boarding school, their lives would have been very similar to those of their parents: little to no education, marrying early and having children, working difficult manual labor, and living in poverty. But their lives will be very different - Shanti Bhavan provides top quality education and all of their graduates have gone on to attend top colleges! Shanti Bhavan's goal is that these young people will use their education to change their families' lives and end the cycle of poverty. After getting to know these kids, I have no doubt they will accomplish whatever they choose!

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INDIA2012_303

Prathiba: Prathiba will be graduating this June and is headed to college after scoring first class on her ISCE exams! She is HILARIOUS, curious and mischievous. I love when she's reacting to something ridiculous - she has the best scowl! Prathiba showed us all around SB and made us feel at home, even though we were only there for a few weeks. I am so proud of her and excited to hear about her transition to college life!

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INDIA2012_289

Vincea: Vincea, also a 2013 grad, has an amazing voice and leads the school's choir. She loves Justin Bieber (as most of the kids do!) and sang a duet of "What Dreams are Made Of" during last year's graduation festivities. I can't wait to see the videos from this year's ceremony to see what she performs!

Preetha
Preetha

Preetha: Preetha is completely delightful! She has an amazing voice (she sang Adele’s “Someone Like You” and blew me away!) and is also an athlete and artist - those photos of my henna? She did it for me :) Preetha is going into 11th grade this year.

Jancy getting ready for graduation with the help of an auntie.
Jancy getting ready for graduation with the help of an auntie.

Jancy: Jancy was the first girl that She's the First sponsored as an organization, so I was so excited to finally meet her in person! She has since gone on to college and is doing really well. Jancy has the most amazing facial expressions - she cannot hide what she's thinking and her look of skepticism is hilarious! She's also an amazing artist - her eye for color and pattern is truly stellar. I hope she continues into fashion design, as has long been her dream -- she would create beautiful graphic prints for clothing!

Maheshwari
Maheshwari

Maheshwari: Maheshwari is the star of our short film, Magho (Daughter). We attended her graduation last year and spent time with her mother at home in her village. She has an amazing story and was so gracious to share it with us. Even though she was nervous, she was immediately comfortable giving us intimate answers to our questions. She's determined to become a cardiologist, or a biologist, and take her mother with her wherever she goes. She's currently studying biochemistry and genetics in college. I'm so proud of her and so honored to have been able to share her story.

Pushpa (center)
Pushpa (center)

Pushpa: Pushpa is gregarious and hilarious. She's a 2010 grad of SB who came back last year to help out at graduation. She's graduating college this year - and recently accepted a position at Goldman Sachs! One of the members of SB's first-ever graduating class, she and her classmates are setting an amazing precedent for the kids coming up after them; Shanti Bhavan is like a family and when the older students succeed, it has an incredible impact on the younger students.

This, of course, is just a handful of the incredible students I met last year -- they are all on my mind because graduation 2013 is upon us!

We're putting together DVDs and information packets for screenings of Magho this fall at our campus chapters and anywhere else that would like to share Maheshwari's amazing story. If you'd like to host a screening, please email me at kate@shesthefirst.org - 100% of the proceeds from your fundraiser will go to sponsor girls at Shanti Bhavan.

How Mentoring Girls Educates Their Families, Too by Kate Lord

This post originally appeared on She's the First's blog, Aspire, after I returned from my first international trip with She's the First to visit their Guatemalan partner Starfish One by One.

As photojournalists, we hope that our images will inspire others to take a moment and reflect, and maybe, to act. But after spending time with the girls in our partner Starfish One by One’s program, I was the one who walked away inspired.

The girls we met are so passionate about learning — and not only about what they learn from their schoolbooks. One of the most exciting features of the Starfish One by One program is the mentoring the girls receive from an indigenous Mayan mentor who has gone through many of the same struggles the girls have. When we visited the girls at their homes and spoke to their mothers, time and time again it was the topics the girls covered in their mentoring sessions that had the greatest impact.

We met 16-year-old Mayra and her mother Eusebia Chuj Julajuj at their home in Buena Vista, Guatemala. She came home one day from her weekly mentoring session and spoke to her mom about what she’d learned about family planning. At 35 and a mother of eight, Mayra’s mom then went to speak to her daughter’s mentor about family planning for herself. After speaking with Candelaria, Mayra’s mentor, she decided that she was ready and that she would speak to her husband.

Mayra, who just started high school only a few weeks ago, has inspired her mother to take control of her life. And she’s not the only girl in the Starfish program to do so. Francisca and Brenda, whom we profiled on Aspire, sat down and had a frank conversation with their parents about sex education as well. And Maria’s father told us that his favorite conversation with his daughter about the mentoring program was when she came home and reported what she’d learned about violence against women. It lead to an open family discussion on the topic.

These stories only scrape the surface of the impact mentoring programs have on young women and their families – especially that of our partner Starfish One by One. But ultimately when you spend time educating a girl, you often end up educating her family as well.

Special Olympic World Summer Games by Kate Lord

Members of China Team 2 celebrate their victory in the 250 meter dragon boat final race at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center. 

Members of China Team 2 celebrate their victory in the 250 meter dragon boat final race at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center. 

Growing up in Matthews, N.C., I thought the only kind of dumpling that existed was a ball of dough served with chicken.

My perspective completely changed upon my arrival in Shanghai, China in September as a coverage coordinator for Special Olympics International. The 2007 World Summer Games were held in this city of more than 13 million residents, and I was assigned to lead teams of Chinese college students in professionally videotaping each of the events for broadcast on the Web.

Boats float down the Huangpu River in downtown Shanghai, China overlooking the city’s Pudong district. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower rises above the rest of Shanghai’s skyline. 

Boats float down the Huangpu River in downtown Shanghai, China overlooking the city’s Pudong district. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower rises above the rest of Shanghai’s skyline. 

        
The term “culture shock” is an understatement for the abundance of smells, sights and tastes of Shanghai. In one block, one can choose from a myriad of foods sold by street vendors, witness countless bikes being repaired by edge-of-the-sidewalk repairmen and hear the endless communication between the horns of taxi drivers. Hoards of people shove their way down the street as cars weave among scooters, bicycles and pedestrians. The chaos of it all made me wonder how a city of this size could possibly host an international event of such magnitude as the Special Olympics World Games.

Me (front left), with several members of our UNC team, and the Shanghai International Studies University volunteer force. We made up only a percentage of the overall Web casting team!

Me (front left), with several members of our UNC team, and the Shanghai International Studies University volunteer force. We made up only a percentage of the overall Web casting team!

My answer came in the form of volunteers ­– waves of them. According to Special Olympics International, the Shanghai games drew an estimated 40,000 volunteers from around the globe. Our Special Olympics Web casting project alone had 240 Chinese volunteers, plus 15 UNC-Chapel Hill alumni, five UNC professors and seven journalism professionals. 

          
The volunteers made this event happen.  From guiding spectators and athletes to each venue to translating between obscure languages and Mandarin, the volunteers kept the games flowing and the focus on the athletes. 

Karol Bogdanowicz, 19, represents Poland in the 500 meter divistion three preliminary round of kayaking at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center. This is the first year that kayaking is an official sport in the Special Olympic World Games.

Karol Bogdanowicz, 19, represents Poland in the 500 meter divistion three preliminary round of kayaking at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center. This is the first year that kayaking is an official sport in the Special Olympic World Games.

            
Our volunteers split up with the mission of covering every heat of every event during the games. We videotaped and edited for 12 to 14 hours a day for 10 days, even facing Typhoon Krosa, getting ourselves and our equipment soaked. Our policy was: if the teams are playing in it, we’re shooting in it. This meant that when Botswana continued to play Sweden despite the downpour, our volunteers were out in the torrential rain trying to keep their cameras dry and their eyes on the ball.

My student, "Fox," films a kayaking event!

My student, "Fox," films a kayaking event!

Working with an organization that can peacefully bring so many nations together was completely rewarding. I chatted with members of France’s soccer team, congratulated Finnish kayakers and screamed along with Ireland’s crowd at a basketball game. I patted Aussies on the back and learned how to properly cheer for Turkey (it’s pronounced Tur-kee-yay). 

Shen Weiguo, 28, of China competes in the division seven 500 meter kayaking final at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center.

Shen Weiguo, 28, of China competes in the division seven 500 meter kayaking final at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center.

IIpo Holttinen, 29, of Finland celebrates his bronze medal in the 500 meter division nine kayaking finals during the 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center.

IIpo Holttinen, 29, of Finland celebrates his bronze medal in the 500 meter division nine kayaking finals during the 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center.

But perhaps most enduring are the friendships I made with several of the Chinese students with which I was working. Despite the language barrier, we communicated well through a combination of their imperfect English and my dramatic charades. Even during grueling hours of video editing, we found common ground to joke about. My students worked incredibly hard and the result reflects that effort. The Web site, www.specialolympicslive.org, boasts a Web page for each Special Olympic athlete and videos of the competition.

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By the end of my two-month stay in Shanghai, the idea of dumplings stuffed with pork wasn’t so strange and I could wend my way through the crowded streets with ease. I had learned to properly eat rice with chopsticks, to count to ten in Mandarin and that tofu is actually delicious.  Above all, I left China with a deeper appreciation for the variety of the cultures of the world and the capability of these cultures to blend happily.  

The drummer for China Team 2 beats to keep his rowers in time on their way to the start line of the 250 meter preliminary round at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center. The team later won the 250 meter final round. 

The drummer for China Team 2 beats to keep his rowers in time on their way to the start line of the 250 meter preliminary round at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center. The team later won the 250 meter final round. 

Marie-Claire Courtin of Switzerland celebrates after a good putt during the level 1 competition at Shanghai Tianma Country Golf Course.

Marie-Claire Courtin of Switzerland celebrates after a good putt during the level 1 competition at Shanghai Tianma Country Golf Course.

Gustavo Deras of El Salvador rushes past Turkey’s Ismail Sari and Ozgur and Ozgur Tas in a match-up during the 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games at Shanghai International Studies University Stadium.  El Salvador won the match. 

Gustavo Deras of El Salvador rushes past Turkey’s Ismail Sari and Ozgur and Ozgur Tas in a match-up during the 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games at Shanghai International Studies University Stadium.  El Salvador won the match. 

Thomas Alves, 15, and Khalid Elhamdi, 18, celebrate their silver medals for men’s 11-a-side football at the award ceremony at Shanghai Songjiang Stadium. 

Thomas Alves, 15, and Khalid Elhamdi, 18, celebrate their silver medals for men’s 11-a-side football at the award ceremony at Shanghai Songjiang Stadium. 

Gustavo Deras, 27, celebrates El Salvador’s gold medal in men’s 11-a-side football at the award ceremony at Shanghai Songjiang Stadium.

Gustavo Deras, 27, celebrates El Salvador’s gold medal in men’s 11-a-side football at the award ceremony at Shanghai Songjiang Stadium.

Luke O’Brien, 6, and his mother Carolina celebrate a basket made by the Irish women’s 5-a-side basketball team during their match against Egypt during the 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games in Shanghai, China.  Caroline’s daughter, Aisling, is a member of the Irish squad.

Luke O’Brien, 6, and his mother Carolina celebrate a basket made by the Irish women’s 5-a-side basketball team during their match against Egypt during the 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games in Shanghai, China.  Caroline’s daughter, Aisling, is a member of the Irish squad.