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2017-18 Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytellers Announced

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the National Geographic Society announced today the selection of the 2017-2018 Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellows.

122 Countries Have Moved to Ban Nuclear Weapons. What Happens Next?

  United Nations — For the first time in history, a majority of the world’s nations have crafted a treaty to ban nuclear weapons. Hundreds of NGOs united under the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) to push the majority of the world’s countries at the United Nations to create a legally binding instrument to prohibit…

Reporter’s Notebook: Voices from the Mekong and Tonlé Sap Lake

Voices and stories from around Tonle Sap Lake and communities affected by the Lower Sesan II dam.

10 Handfuls of India

While working on farms and learning about seed preservation this past year for the Fulbright-National Geographic Storytelling Fellowship, I have really gotten to eat some amazing foods. If my hands weren’t in the soil or toiling with seeds, they were usually grabbing the nearest edible item. People talk about how amazing Indian cuisine is — the thalis, the street foods, the home-cooked meals — and yes, those are all pretty great, but where this creative and intricate cuisine comes from, its ingredients, its flavors, its uncooked beginnings, that’s where the real magic lives. This fertile soil (at least that which is untouched by deforestation, drought, or chemicals) breathes so much beauty into our hands. And I consider myself beyond lucky to have held such raw beauty, however briefly.

Holding the Cosmos in Our Hands

“The seed comes from the tree, the tree comes from the seed. It’s like the chicken and the egg. If people want to understand it, they will break the seed apart — they will actually kill it — to see the cells, the chromosomes and the genetics. There is another way to look at this. I plant a seed and a miracle happens — something new is born out of this carbohydrate and protein, a new life is born. This is a miracle, you see? The miracle of life.”

Dodging a Heavy Bough, Fleeing Angry Wasps — Another day in Yasuni Rain Forest

I have now reached the final push in deploying cameras in the canopy. I’m sitting at in the library of the Tiputini Biodiversity Station near Yasuní National Park after placing cameras in six Ficus trees spread across the trails near the research facility. I’ve also got cameras running at the Yasuní Research Station, two hours up the river, where I’ll return to set up a few more cameras later this week.

The past few days have involved a lot of climbing, most of which has been in trees I had never climbed before. The canopy habitat is dynamic, changing frequently as storms weaken structures and animals move in and out of their homes. Because of this, even on familiar trees, every climb is new to some extent, but I tend to find the first ascent of a new tree holds the most surprises, delightful or otherwise.

South Serbia’s Youth Look to a Future That Blurs Ethnic Division

In a Southern Serbian town known for its ethnic tensions, five teenage girls find common ground across the divide.

Island-hopping in the Mekong River

Recounting a one-week journey across islands in the Mekong River, near Sambour district, with the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-CAM).

A Fisherman’s Son Who Cannot Swim

Mayur, a young Koli fisherman’s son, never learned to swim because the beaches of Mumbai are too polluted. Few Koli youth want to follow their parent’s footsteps to be fishermen in Mumbai. The consumer demand for fish though is ever on the rise. Mayur teaches me to dig for clams and offers his perspective on Koli culture among shifting tides.

Side Gig: Canopy Tour Guide

One of the many safety precautions I take in my work is to never climb alone. Sometimes that just means bringing someone else into the forest to hang out on the ground while I battle the ropes, branches, string, ants, and any number of other hazards above. Whenever possible, however, I like to bring people…

Searching for Water in the World’s Biggest Refugee Crisis

The story behind a short documentary on the lives of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda. Can Africa’s greatest river provide relief to the world’s biggest refugee crisis? I went to northern Uganda to find out, and encountered a story of desperation and perseverance that opened my eyes and broke my heart. I’ll never look at a glass of water…

Karoo Stories: Narratives from Gariep and Van der Kloof dams

Farmworkers and farmers share their experiences of working and living near Gariep and Van der Kloof dams on the Orange River.

Chasing Away Winter with Slovenia’s Mythical Kurenti

Once a year, in Slovenia’s quiet northeastern corner, a rambunctious figure is invited to roam the streets and disrupt the peace. The Kurent, an unruly God from Slavic folklore, is the centerpiece of Slovenia’s carnival celebration before Ash Wednesday. This strange character has been reimagined through time, but continues to delight locals and tourists across the country each February.

The Last Climb in Borneo

Sometimes things are hardest right before you reach the finish line. Then you remember that it’s not actually the finish line, it’s just the halfway point. This is an account of my last climb in Malaysian Borneo, but I’ve got many more to come in the Ecuadorean Amazon. There are times when it feels like…

Storytelling in a Slum’s Silicon Valley

“We have a different kind of Silicon Valley here,” Nawneet Ranjan explains. Founder of the Dharavi Diary: Slum and Rural Innovation Project, Ranjan tells how his students use storytelling, technology, and the power of their diversity to raise awareness and develop solutions for issues facing the Dharavi slum community in Mumbai, India.