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MARCH 2019 Volume 2, Issue 2

Via Verde Student Travel Magazine

URBAN TRAVEL Rome, Italy pg. 10

Barcelona, Spain

pg. 12

NYT Summer Academy

pg. 18

ROME, ITALY Photo by Kamala Varadarajan


PUBLICATION POLICY Via Verde, a student travel magazine published by the students in Palo Alto High School’s Media Leadership and Management Honors Incubator class, is a designated open forum for student expression and discussion of issues of concern to its readership. Via Verde is distributed to its readers and the student body at no cost.

ADVERTISING The staff publishes advertisements with signed contracts providing they are not deemed by the staff inappropriate for the magazine’s audience. For more information about advertising with Via Verde, please email us at or through our adviser at 650-3293837 for more information.

LETTERS TO THE EDITORS The staff welcomes letters to the editors but reserves the right to edit all submissions for length, grammar, potential libel, invasion of privacy and obscenity. Send all letters to viaverdemagazine@ or to 50 Embarcadero Road Palo Alto, CA 94301.

PRINTING & DISTRIBUTION Via Verde is printed by aPrintis in Pleasanton, California. The Via Verde staff will distribute copies around the Palo Alto High School campus. All Via Verde work is available at and


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Palo Alto High School’s Travel Magazine


MISSION STATEMENT Via Verde aims to be a relevant and reliable travel magazine that uses the power of the student press and desktop publishing to pursue the values of the Palo Alto Unified School District, Palo Alto High School and scholastic journalism. More specifically, the mission of the Via Verde is to provide: •

march 2019 volume 2 issue 2

The magazine’s student staff with journalistic and leadership opportunities that increase their ability and desire to participate meaningfully in our society and global community; and skills to become leaders in future endeavors; The Paly community with information on travel issues from student perspectives; a forum for students to submit and publish their experiences related to travel; and an independent journalistic magazine that models integrity and creativity seeking to educate its readers on local and international cultures; and, The larger scholastic journalism community with a role model incubator publication that embodies the best of scholastic journalism and for future student-created magazines.

Megan Chai Sophie Dewees

digital editor Maia Lagna

photo and art director Kamala Varadarajan

staff writers Paula Rodenas Guasch Gwyneth Wong

contributing writers Owen Longstreth Aarti Malhotra Michaela Seah Zoë Wong-VanHaren


Paul Kandell

LETTER FROM THE EDITORS In this issue of Via Verde, we explore travel in urban locations through the student lens. From Barcelona to our very own San Francisco, Paly students offer their perspectives and stories on the metropolitan hubs of the world. First, see digital editor Maia Lagna’s experience studying at the School of the New York Times Summer Academy in “From SFO to Soho.” Through a comprehensive course on photojournalism, Lagna was able to refine her photography skills and interact with New Yorkers while exploring the city. Next, read “Holidays in Barcelona,” where staff writer Paula Rodenas Guasch recounts her experience spending Christmas and New Years in Barcelona with her family. As a Barcelona native herself, she writes about the unique traditions that Catalans partake in to celebrate the holidays. Finally, see photography director Kamala Varadarajan’s photo essay, “Roman Holiday,” where she takes readers through her adventure in Rome. While venturing through popular tourist destinations and secluded side streets, Varadarajan captures the juxtaposition of ancient architecture and modern-day life.

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on the cover Paly senior Grace Rowell took this photo in Chinatown San Francisco.

Bon voyage and happy reading! Sophie and Megan

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inside 5


explore 8 10 12 14

Jaipur, India Rome, Italy Holidays in Barcelona Scuba Diving in Oahu

reflect 16 17 20 22


Mr. Toma School of the NYT Tanzania Gallery

october 2018

GARZE, TIBET Photo by Ashley Hitchings


Without a driver’s license, getting around the Bay Area can be difficult. A wide variety of transportation options are available including Caltrain, Uber, Lyft and bike sharing services like Lime, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION Public transportation includes Bay Area Rapid Transit, Caltrain and Light Rail. Pros: • Cheap: It costs less than $8.25 to ride Caltrain to San Francisco and back using a student discount. • Easy to transfer from Caltrain to BART and light rail. Cons: • Limited: No transportation inside of towns. • Bikes: BART has no bike storage and light rail has limited space. • Crowds: Trains get crowded for sports games and rush hour. RIDESHARING Uber and Lyft have become established services over the past years and offer ridesharing across the Bay Area. Pros: • Convenient: It is possible to get a ride anytime and anywhere. Cons: • Expensive: A ride across San Fransisco costs a minimum of $15. Prices can also more than double when demand is high. • Legality: It is against the terms of service to ride unaccompanied in an Uber or Lyft as a minor. BIKE AND SCOOTER SHARING Bike and scooter sharing is a newer phenomenon, and both Lime and Bird offer electric bikes and scooters for transportation. Pros: • Cheap: It costs $1 to start riding and 15 cents after that. • Fast: Because many cities are congested, biking can be faster. Cons: • Unreliable: Bird and Lime are not available in every city. • Safety: Both companies provide helmets, but not with the bikes. • Legality: Bird requires users to be over 18. And Lime requires the same for scooter and e-bikes, and 16 for regular bikes.

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what’s your favorite thing to do in sf? Compiled by GWYNETH WONG

[ POP-UP MUSEUMS ] Text by MICHAELA SEAH If you’re active on social media, it’s more than likely you’ve seen pop-up museums such as the Color Factory on your feed. Cute, simple and trendy, it isn’t a surprise they went viral. But what is a popup museum? Pop-up museums are temporary art exhibits purposely made to be bright and photogenic. Often times, visitors are encouraged to touch and interact the art, an experience that is wildly different than traditional museums where there’s a barrier between the art and the viewer. Here’s a look into a few pop-up museums that toured in the Bay Area.

“My favorite thing to do [is] ... to take pictures at the Golden Gate Bridge and go shopping in Chinatown and go to this restaurant that … serves Chinese food. — ROWAN ERICKSON, freshman

SWEET EXPERIENCE Sophomores Cindy Liu, Sabrina Chan and Antonia Mou explore Candytopia’s swirly, sugary fantasy. This vibrant pop-up museum came to San Francisco last fall.

“My favorite thing to do in SF would be to go at night with my friends and explore around.”

— AIDEN CHANG, senior

POP OF COLOR Sophomores Antonia Mou, Sarah Chang and Genna Bishop pose at an energetic exhibit at The Color Factory, which came to San Francisco last spring. The pop-up museum’s monochromatic and artsy exhibits are tailored for social media. “Definitely I would love going to the Haight. They have awesome thrift stores and the coolest niche stores.” — ELLA JONES, junior


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Best Spanish School & Homestay in Quito, Ecuador “I loved my time at Atahualpa Spanish school. Marta and Vincente took the utmost care with me. I felt inspired as I learned about their language and culture. I can’t recommend them enough.” — MAYA KANDELL, Class of 2016

KOTOR, MONTENEGRO Photo by Megan Chai

ADVERTISE FOR YOUR HOMESTAY If you had a great time at your homestay abroad and would like to support your host school by telling people about your great experience. Via Verde will help you make an ad that will draw attention to your overseas hosts and teachers! See the advertisement above for an example. Contact us at or visit


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AMBER PALACE This is one of the buildings in the palace complex. While taking a tour, I saw the beautiful murals on the pink sandstone walls.


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Text and Photo by AARTI MALHOTRA




T THE BEGINNING OF MY trip, to Jaipur, Rajasthan, while standing on top of Jaigarh Fort, I was able to see the beautiful view of Amber Palace and the city itself. From then I knew that this was going to be a trip to remember. Over winter break, my family and I decided that it was time to visit our relatives living in Delhi, India. For the past few years, my parents took us to cities other than Delhi to have us learn about the different cultures and traditions of India. This time we went to Jaipur, Rajasthan. Located in northwest India, Jaipur is also known as the “Pink City,” named for its buildings made of pink sandstone. When we arrived in the heart of the city, the ancient castles and old marketplaces had turned to the color of red clay, reflecting the hundreds of years of traditional Rajasthani culture. We got the full sense of Rajasthani cultures by visiting three out of the eight palaces and were amazed by their grandeur and size. These palaces portray a story of another time and place, where kings and queens ruled a whole kingdom, and each room offers a peek at their way of life. In City Palace, there is a museum dedicated to weapons that ancient kings, known for their valor and bravery, used in battle. A few swords were even carved and decorated. I remember being intimidated and intrigued when closely looking at them and reading about their specific uses. The weapons were used by the kings of Rajasthan, known as the Rajputs, which means warriors or kings. Other than their swords, their bravery and reputation for fighting is shown when visiting Jaipur’s eight multiple-mile long forts that run along the tops of mountains and around the city, highlighting the ancient struggle for power and protection. Apart from their castles and forts, Rajasthan

is known for art, food and desert activities. In art, the embroidery of Rajasthan is world renowned. Using bright colors and tiny mirrors, the locals stitch fine designs on fabric by hand, creating beautiful work on clothing and quilts. Their use of mirror in their designs, known as mirror work, is popular throughout India and around the world. Additionally, the henna from Rajasthan is particularly famous, and I had the opportunity to have an artist use henna to create gorgeous designs on my hands. Henna, also known as Mehandi in India, is a natural dye made from a plant. It is an important part of Indian culture, as it is applied on a bride and the bride’s side of the family during one of the functions in an Indian wedding. With every trip, there are some things that I wish I had done, but was not able to because of time restraints or other reasons. Specifically in this trip, I was not able to eat “kachori,” a popular deep fried snack filled with spicy lentils and take part in camel and elephant rides, for which people around to world travel to Jaipur. However, I know that next time, if I get the chance, I certainly will. As a young, second generation Indian-American, born and brought up in the U.S., it would be easy not to fully learn about my heritage, due to the large distance between the two countries. I am glad that parents took me to Jaipur and that I could use my break from school and life in America as an opportunity to reconnect with where I am from and to learn more about what it means to be an Indian. Through sightseeing, eating and shopping for traditional Rajasthani clothing, I earned a greater appreciation for my background and am even more proud to be from such a diverse and unique country. I encourage everybody to go back to their roots and explore a new part of heritage. Trust me, it is worth it. v

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Roman Holiday COLOSSAL COLOSSEUM The ancient arena shines in the late afternoon sun against a stormy sky, as seen from the Roman Forum, just across the street. Inside, visitors can see trapdoors that gladiators and animals used.



Text and photos by KAMALA VARADARAJAN TANDING IN ROME’S ancient Forum, it's hard to fully grasp that some of history’s most famous figures walked these paths, nearly 2,000 years ago. In the Colosseum, looking down from the highest tier, I tried to picture gladiators and animals fighting in the arena. In St. Peter’s Basilica, Michaelangelo’s emotional Pietá sculpture stood right in front of me in all its glory (behind bulletproof glass, of course). It was humbling to view these centuries-old wonders, but Rome has more than ancient history and exquisite art. After hours of sightseeing with my family, the next adventure was always finding a new restaurant to savor Italy’s famous cuisine. I will admit that the food in Rome got somewhat monotonous after a few days, but I was able to work off the endless carbs from all the pizza and pasta by walking everywhere I needed to go. This was my sole form of transportation, so I had the opportunity to venture into smaller, beau-


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tiful churches that we stumbled upon and stroll around hidden piazzas. It was these secluded areas that were windows into the everyday lives of today’s Romans, from teens with cigarettes gathering around the steps of churches to seniors enjoying cones piled high with scoops of the most authentic gelato. Wandering around the cobblestone streets, I was struck by the stark difference between its two sectors — Old Rome and New Rome. When I imagined the city, I only thought of the ancient part, full of ruins. But just past the Porta del Popolo, an ancient gate in the famous Piazza del Popolo, there are large banks, Burger Kings and other chains that bring tourists back to modern times. Even after a week, I hadn’t had enough of the magnificent architecture and art, rich history and peaceful parks. It’s definitely worth braving the crowds to experience these world-famous time capsules. v

SNAPPING THE STEPS My brother, Gopala Varadarajan, frames a photo of the Spanish Steps. One of Rome's most famous sights, it's usually swarming with tourists.

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ALKING THROUGH THE streets of my hometown, Barcelona over the holidays, I realized how unique the city is, filled with distinctive architecture and stunning landscapes. I feel a wave of nostalgia as I remember all the small beautiful corners I discovered throughout the Catalan capital. Its large avenues were not only filled with tourists, but also with white Christmas lights that illuminated every night of my two week December vacation. As I entered the Gothic Quarter, I looked up at the old and medieval architecture of the neighborhood, and my feet automatically led me to my favorite market stand. I always remember the happiness of my 10-year-old self walking through the stalls of “Fira de Santa Llúcia,” Barcelona’s largest and most famous market. Every year, my family and I go there to buy Catalan Christmas decorations, specifically the “Tió de Nadal” (also known as “Caga tió,”) a small log with a smiley face that is covered with a blanket and wears a traditional red Catalan hat, the “Barretina.” Every day, from early December until Christmas night, the children of Catalan families sit around the “Tió de Nadal” and sing the “Caga tió” song while poking it with a stick, hoping that small presents will appear under the blanket on Christmas day, as Santa Claus is not part of our tradition. Christmas night is my favorite night of the holidays, as it is dedicated to families uniting and eating a traditional dinner together. Generally, dinner starts with a bowl of soup, known as “sopa de galets.” The second course is meat, which is usually accompanied with shellfish. At this point in the meal, I’m usually already full, but I can never leave dinner without dessert. “Turró” and “neules” are my favorite typical Catalan Christmas treats. “Turró” is


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a nougat confection in many different flavors, usually shaped in a rectangle. “Neules” are typical Catalan biscuits flavored with lemon and sometimes covered in chocolate. Of all the Christmas traditions in Barcelona, Epiphany, the Feast of The Three Kings, is one of my favorites. Similar to how children in the U.S. write letters to Santa, kids write to the Three Kings explaining what they would like for Christmas. These letters can be sent by mail or delivered in person. As a kid, I gave my letter in person on the night of Dec. 5, when the Three Kings arrived in Barcelona and led a procession through the city. Every year, they throw candy to the kids, which is eaten as a farewell to the holidays. I competed with my friends to get the largest amount of candy, later sharing it among everyone. That same night, families often put milk and cookies under the Christmas tree, hoping that the Three Kings will leave them with presents the next morning. In addition to Christmas, there are many Catalan traditions for New Years are celebrated widely throughout Barcelona. I love gathering in “Plaça d’Espanya” on New Year’s Eve with my friends to see the “La Font Màgica de Montjuic,” a huge water fountain that lights up on special occasions. For those who do not attend the live show, they can watch big clocks in different parts of the country on their TVs. Exactly 12 seconds before midnight, people try to eat 12 grapes, one each second. In Spain, it is said that if one is able to eat all 12 grapes before midnight, they will have good luck for the coming year. I look forward to my trip to Barcelona to spend time with my family and enjoy Catalan traditions during the holiday season. Although the streets are not covered in snow, the lights that line the streets of Barcelona create a magical mood throughout the holidays. v

Words/Phrases to Know SPANISH Hola - Hello Gracias - Thank You De nada - You’re Welcome Feliz Navidad - Merry Christmas Felices fiestas - Happy Holidays Feliz año nuevo - Happy New Year’s CATALAN Hola - Hello Gràcies - Thank You De res - You’re Welcome Bon Nadal - Merry Christmas Bones festes - Happy Holidays Felic Any Nou - Happy New Year’s “CAGA TIÓ” SONG “Caga tió, Caga torró, Avellanes i mató, Si no cagues bé Et daré un cop de bastó. Caga tió! Caga tió, Tió de Nadal, No caguis arengades, Que són massa salades Caga torrons Que són més bons!”

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NHALE — A SOUND REMINISCENT OF STAR WARS’ Darth Vader breath fills the water. Exhale — bubbles burst out of the regulator, looking for the fastest way to the surface. I pump some air into my vest, and immediately feel myself rising away from the coral beneath my fins. Down to my left, I can see my brother gliding near the sea floor, his fins kicking up sand as he swims. For Thanksgiving break, my family took a trip to O’ahu, one of the eight major islands in the archipelago of Hawai’i. Apart from visiting relatives, my parents gifted my brother and me with one of the most amazing experiences: scuba diving. The sun was bright on the water in Kewalo Basin, and boats floated with the tide, tied to the docks. We were going to dive to a depth of approximately 10 meters, something many people our age might never dream of doing. My brother and I were excited to see what was in the water below us. Before I knew it, I found myself jumping off the back of the boat, plunging into the salty water with heavy equipment. The guide, who was bobbing in the waves already, directed me towards the rope which anchored our boat to the ocean floor. The rest of our crew was waiting, inches below the surface, getting used to breathing through their regulators and masks. Everybody fumbled with their vests, looking for the button which will release the air in them, decreasing buoyancy. Bubbles shot up, and we started sinking, following the rope down and swimming towards the coral reef beneath us. Underwater, the sound of our breathing was amplified. A spotted moray eel’s head emerged, but after seeing us, snaked back into it’s rocky cavern. Our guide signaled for us to follow him, and we found an outcropping of rock with a sandy bank below it. Under the rock hid our dive’s most interesting creatures: sharks and turtles. Mingling together in their conjoined hiding place, whitetip reef sharks and green sea turtles rested peacefully upon the sand. The sharks were not aggressive and didn’t pay us much mind as we watched. The turtles, or “honu,” however, looked on with caution, one retreating further into the darkness. A second started moving out, tilting its head up towards the light, resurfacing for it’s next breath. Green sea turtles can go half an hour without breathing, a seemingly impossible feat for humans. Even with scuba gear, we didn’t stay underwater as long as they did, we couldn’t risk running out of air. All around us are “humuhumunukunukuapua’a,” Hawaii’s state fish. The reef triggerfish has a stripe of vibrant blue, and it pecks at the coral as it shoots past a school of black-and-yellow Moorish Idols. In Hawaiian, there is a saying: “malama ka ‘aina,” or “protect the land.” As I am underwater, I observe the life that was around me, and think about how my life could affect those of the native flora and fauna. After being a part of nature and experiencing the beauty of the ocean, I now have a deeper appreciation for the protection of both the land and sea. v

TURQUOISE WATERS The scenic Makapu’u Point Lookout overlooks the sea cliffs and the Makapu’u Beach Park below. The Hawaiian islands are well-known for its blue, crystalline waters and white sand beaches. Photo by Megan Chai

SINKING LIKE AN ANCHOR Breathing through a regulator, I hold on to the rope which ties the motorboat to the coral reef below them to keep myself afloat. Scuba gear is heavy and can weigh up to 15 pounds. Photo by Trevor Wong-VanHaren

A TURTLE STRANGER Freshman Trevor Wong-VanHaren floats towards a green sea turtle resting under a rock ledge. Turtles can hold their breaths for 30 minutes at a time. Photo by ZoĂŤ Wong-VanHaren

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ROM RACING A Formula One car in Abu Dhabi to seeing lion cubs in Johannesburg, Palo Alto High School teacher Radu Toma, who teaches Geometry A and Algebra 2 / Trigonometry Honors, has traveled around the globe. Tasting regional cuisines and meeting local people, Toma immersed himself in diverse cultures in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America. Via Verde interviewed Toma over email to learn about his global experiences and the valuable insight his travels have imparted to him. v Via Verde: What have you learned from your trips? Radu Toma: The world is hugely diverse. Sceneries, lifestyle[s], standard of living, architecture, cultural values, history [and] art … differ a lot from one continent to another, from one country to another, and from one region [or] city to another in the same country too. At the same time, there are many things most people have in common, independent of the country or region they live in: family matters, friends matter [and] most people are courteous and welcoming towards visitors. VV: Have you met anyone or done anything that has changed your perspective? RT: For me, the most troubling aspect of travel is seeing how hugely unfair life is. How lucky some of us are to be born in a stable, prosperous, rich democracy like the US, and how [others face] worse odds, who otherwise may have the same intellectual capacity, drive and work ethic we do, have to deal with just because they were born in a less fortunate place. On a happier note, it is enlightening to see how resilient people are and how little correlation there is between people’s happiness and their … material possessions. VV: Have you had any funny or weird experiences while traveling? RT: The cutest encounters? One [monkey in Gibraltar] had the audacity to enter our car through the open window, steal my wife’s bag of chips and before we knew it, escape back out … The weirdest? Unplanned encounters with old friends and [former] students in the most unexpected places: in downtown Tbilisi, Estonia, on the Great Wall in China and on a cruise ship in Patagonia.

CIRCLING THE WORLD Radu Toma finds value in experiencing different ways of life, whether it is exploring the beaches of Uruguay or the metropolis of Hong Kong,. “I am fortunate to be able to constantly broaden my horizons and learn about the geography, history, culture [and] archaeology all over the world,” Toma says. Photo by Megan Chai


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VV: How have your travels affected you as a person or as a teacher? RT: It helps to have seen a large part of the world and experienced, even if only at a superficial level, many different cultures. It puts things in perspective: taught me do’s and don’ts, how to appreciate what I have and strive to achieve the achievable. … It taught me to care about the environment, to worry about the have not’s, the uneducated, the less fortunate and to admire people[’s] drive, optimism and desire to improve the lives of their loved ones.

From SFO to


STARING CONTEST A young girl poses inside an AMC movie theater on Broadway. The key to taking captivating photos is to be observant and fast, because the perfect snapshot may only last a second. Photo by Maia Lagna



HE CAMERA SHUTTER swiftly clicks away, capturing a man biking across the street among mustard yellow taxis. This photoshoot was one of my first assignments at the New York Times Summer Academy: shoot an action photo with a technique that blurs the subject to show movement. The School of the New York Times Summer Academy is exactly what it suggests, an instructional summer camp held in the heart of New York City. With 88 courses to choose from, ranging from photography to journalism, the academy offers a unique learning experience for everyone. I took the Photojournalism as Art course, a two-week long program which is open to ninth through 12th graders. It covered nearly all aspects of photography, from how to use a digital camera to stylistic tips on shooting captivating photos as a journalist. My teachers, Jennifer Altman, a professional portrait photographer, and Skyler Reid, journalist and photographer, both led the morning and afternoon classes, and critiqued photo assignments. Every day we would head out on a stretch of Broadway in Manhattan, surrounded by towering buildings, a two-story Trader Joe’s, Lincoln Center and Juilliard. Our assignments differed each class, from portraiture to action shots. After the photoshoots, the class would reconvene to edit and submit our photos to the teacher for review. The people in the area ranged from stern business people to French tourists to people selling $7 smoothies from trucks. The streets were composed of high-rise buildings, food stands and blooming trees, serving as the perfect backdrop and subject for my photos, which I was able to creatively use to tell an engaging story. Since I usually had less than an hour for photo shoots, I stayed in the area between Columbus Circle and Lincoln Center. However, New York offers a number of attractions to visit and to take creative photos of, such as the observatory of the One World Trade Center and the striking 9/11 memorial. After riding the subway to Brooklyn, I stuffed myself with fried cookie dough and steamed vegetable dumplings at the Smorgasburg outdoor food market. Finally, the High Line, a 1.45-mile elevated railway turned park, offered amazing views and photo opportunities. When I realized that the class would be taught to use the manual function of our cameras, I felt blindsided. Unlike the automatic mode, functions to control the expo-


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SELF-PORTRAIT SURPRISE This self portrait was taken by staging and framing the photo, then handing over the camera to a partner to snap the picture. The striped column spewing smoke behind is a common sight around the city, but it also provides an interesting backdrop. Photo by Mikaela Lezcano de Orleans

sure and shutter speed must be calculated and set at the perfect ratio. This was something that I had never used before, and I felt like a complete beginner though I had been taking photos for years. Following the first day of shooting, I felt useless. Looking back at my over-exposed photos with terrible composition, I felt like I lost the battle between myself and my camera. But going to class and taking hundreds of photos at each shoot every day made my photography skills progress exponentially. After flying by myself across the country and living without my parents in a dorm for two weeks, I learned that I would have to push myself outside my comfort zone to have new experiences. This was the longest amount of time that I had spent away from home and in a completely new city, surrounded by strangers who soon became companions. Although I was unable to see that I would eventually be able to accomplish skills that I never knew existed, I reminded myself that there was no way I

could improve if I didn’t try. Eventually, I was able to take blurry photos that looked purposeful, rather than accidental, shoot under varying conditions, and hone in on my unique style of photography. I aim to focus on the minute details of everyday life, as well as the distinctive characters that exist in the bustling world around me. I left the Bay Area as someone who was cautious and enjoyed the comfort of feeling safe in my surroundings, but I left New York City confident and determined. On my return, as I jaywalked across University Avenue in my hometown of Palo Alto, there was a pep in each step, a keepsake from my trip to the city that never sleeps. v

ON BROADWAY This photo was taken by standing at the top of a pyramidal staircase outside of Juilliard School’s Alice Tully Hall. This strip is just a few blocks away from where classes are held at Fordham University. Photo by Maia Lagna

NYC SUMMER ACADEMY The School of the New York Times Summer Academy provides a range of specialized courses put together especially for ninth through 12th graders from around the world. Additionally, students board at Fordham University Lincoln Center for two weeks. The program provides the chance to gain hands-on experience and take in-depth classes about various journalism-related fields while studying in the Manhattan metropolis. For more information visit

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! On excursions, it is important to keep one’s mind open, as nearly anything is photo-worthy, like construction zones and busy streets. Photo by Mikaela Lezcano de Orleans

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TOP OF THE CRATER We stopped at the top of the Ngoronoro Crater for a preview of the salty lakes and grasslands inside.

PLAYING AROUND My favorite part of Tarangire National Park was the abundance of baby elephants that loved to frolic in the grass.

WATER BREAK This watering hole was a popular spot in Tarangire National Park for zebras to stop for a drink at the end of the day.

Text and photos by SOPHIE DEWEES

Asante, Africa



IELDS OF SUNFLOWERS AND GRAZING cows overlooked by the blue, snow-capped mountain of Kilimanjaro passed by the window as I drove with my family from Arusha. We passed through towns with empty facades of buildings and bodegas coated in bright paint. Despite being surrounded by a world that felt so different from my own, everywhere I looked there were familiar sights: a woman walking with her child dressed in a sweatshirt and jeans, signs written in English rather than Kiswahili the native language in Tanzania, and advertisements for Coca Cola. There was even a stand labeled “Michelle Obama Mobile Shop.” From visiting tribal villages to viewing the country’s wildlife, my time in Tanzania greatly impacted my worldview. The following places allowed me to catch a glimpse the natural beauty of Tanzania as well as of a way of life that, although entirely unlike my own, provides a unique community for many Tanzanian people. v Masai Village The way of life greatly varies throughout the country, as some people live in the city, while others still remain closely connected to their tribes. For example, some traditional Masai people live in huts made from mud and acacia branches. When visiting a Masai village, we were greeted by tribe members clad in brightly-colored and patterned traditional clothes and sandals made from car tires. Although our experience at the village was designed for tourists, the tribal ties in Tanzanian culture greatly impact the lives of many Tanzanian people. One of our guides, Wilfred Lembris, is Masai and despite his modern life in Arusha, he still routinely meets with local members of the tribe. Mto Wa Mbu Kijiji (Mosquito Creek Village) Mosquito Creek Village is home to over 120 different tribes, including Masai people who choose a life in between modern and tribal. Among other professions, the people of the village make a part of their living off of the tourist industry, crafting wood carvings, paintings and art made from banana leaves. Made out of ebony, teak, rosewood and mahogany, the majority of the wood carvings are inspired by the local flora and fauna and are made to sell to hotels and tourists. Tarangire National Park Nicknamed the “small Serengeti,” Tarangire National Park is filled with grasslands and dotted with baobab

and acacia trees. The wet and dry season of Tarangire are drastically different: the wet season is green and luscious, while the dry season is brown and barren. We visited at the end of the wet season, so the grass was beginning to turn brown and only a few trees retained their leaves. On our very first day, we spotted giraffes walking gracefully along the horizon and herds of impala roaming the grassy terrain. As we drove back to camp, we were greeted with a spectacular sunset. Ngorongoro Crater The rim of the Ngorongoro crater is higher up in the mountains and greener due to greater precipitation. According to our other guide, Emmanuel Mkenda, he surrounding area is home to the Iraqw people who came from Ethiopia thousands of years ago. Living on the rim of the crater, they grow pumpkins and make clay pots. The Ngorongoro crater is vital for collecting water during the rainy season, as it trickles down to the surrounding villages. Home to a wide variety of animals, the inside of the crater is flat, containing salt water lakes and grasslands. Venturing through the crater was surreal, as it was akin to experiencing a nature documentary first hand. We witnessed the natural pecking order as hyenas, who had killed a wildebeest, abandoned their lunch when the lions arrived. Serengeti National Park Meaning “wide open” in the Masai language, the landscape of the Serengeti often looks similar to the American West: yellow fields of grass stretching out to the horizon and great open space. However, the lack of buildings and the acacia trees that dot the landscape hint that we are not in Kansas anymore. The Serengeti is home to many animals, including gazelles, zebras, lions and leopards. We were able to see a real-life pride rock — a collection of tall rocks and trees housing four lionesses. As it started raining, the lions came down to drink the water collecting on the rocks.

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STUDENT TRAVEL PHOTOS FROM AROUND THE WORLD Email your travel photos to to be featured.

TORONTO, CANADA Photo by Sharon Tseng

CITY,CRUZ COUNTRY SANTA Photo by Kristina Im Photo by Grace Rowell

HAVANA, CUBA Photo by Elise Adamson



Profile for Verde Magazine

Verde Exclusive Via Verde Volume 2 Issue 2  

Verde Exclusive Via Verde Volume 2 Issue 2