GVSU Photography Major Travels to China

Jackie Smith

Megan Lendman didn’t always know that she wanted to be a photographer, but setting foot on foreign soil opened her eyes to a world of opportunities. A senior and photography major, Lendman is also a member of the Honors College at Grand Valley State University. Over the past few years while taking opportunities to study abroad through GVSU, she has expanded her photography skills to taking pictures in foreign countries like Taiwan. China is her next destination.

Lendman first studied abroad through a GVSU faculty-led program. Professor Curtis Smith of GVSU’s East Asian and Chinese Studies Program led the trip during the winter semester of 2011. The students lived in Taiwan for four months, studying at the National Taiwan Normal University in Tai Pei.

“On faculty-led programs we had classes at the university with local students, but outside of class Professor Smith also lectured us,” Lendman said.

As for her next adventure, Lendman left June 26 for China and will be staying there for a month.

“This time, I’m going by myself, not through Grand Valley,” she said.

Direct enrollment allows students to enroll in study abroad programs not affiliated with their university. For the next six weeks, Lendman will be staying at Yunnan Normal University in Kunming, the capital of the Yunnan province of China. She will be living in the international student dorms, hoping to meet other students her age from around the world. She will also take the opportunity to work on her senior project photography series for the Honors College.

“I’m really excited for the exposure…a lot of times people who think of China think of communism right away, but I want to give people an insight that will inspire people in a different way,” Lendman said. “We think we know so much about the world when we still have so much to learn.”

As for the language barrier, she is not too worried about communicating with the locals. Lendman has been taking Chinese language classes for two years.

“I think it will be a lot easier with the language after I get there,” she said. “After I hear it, it makes it a lot easier.”

Lendman first experienced the thrill of travel when she went to Taiwan the first time, a few years before her faculty-led visit, to stay with her uncle. She noticed the beauty of the culture and realized she wanted to capture it.

“It didn’t set in I could do [photography] until I went to Taiwan,” Lendman said. “When I took pictures people always said they were good, but I never thought anything of it until I went to Taiwan with my uncle, and he asked if I had ever considered photojournalism.”

China is not the last stop for Lendman either. She plans to continue to travel, and to share her vision of the world through photography.

“Next summer will be reserved for another big trip either abroad or traveling across the country,” Lendman said. “I am really interested in introducing people to each other.”

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