The Personal Growth Photograph is a photo that demonstrates personal and/or extracurricular learning and growth. Images can capture a moment when you learned something new about yourself, accomplished a new task, when your values were tested, when you adapted to your new environment, gained a new kind of independence, etc.
"Travels" by Kate Greene
Longsheng County, Guilin, China
Taken October 2013
I had been acting as if I was independent ever since I arrived in China. I went to the markets, used my chopsticks, spoke Chinese. Yet it all felt like a performance- particularly as China is a place where my outsider status is so physically apparent and so publicly and constantly reaffirmed- it felt like a sham of a performance, really, in which it was obvious that I had no idea what I was doing.
After the chaos of Hong Kong and Beijing (where I had spent most of my time), I craved the wide open spaces that were supposed to exist outside of Guilin city. So, I went to go find them. Traveling by bike throughout Guilin, where English is not widely spoken and the regional accent is heavy and strange, was the best thing I could have done to not just be but to actually feel independent. This photo came out of many last-minute hostel arrangements, faulty bus schedules, awkward transactions and wrong turns, but- I realized, in Guilin, that independence isn't supposed to mean feeling disconnected with everything around you. It's an incredible feeling of capability that can only be realized outside of your familiar.