This short essay was originally intended to be submitted into the 2016 World Nomads Travel Film Scholarship contest along with my short film, "Discovering the Voice Within". The essay prompt was as follows:
Tell us what winning this scholarship would mean to you and why we should choose you. (max 1500 characters)*
Since I didn't realize there was an essay portion of the contest, I panicked a bit. I had nothing written, and the deadline was fast approaching. In my haste, I misread it, thinking it said max 1,500 words— not max 1,500 characters. BIG DIFFERENCE. i was quite proud of what I churned out in such a short time, until I realized I had written WAY too many characters. Obviously I had to cut this essay down significantly to adhere to the limit. I figured I could still share the unabridged version of why I deserve a chance:
Being chosen for the 2016 World Nomads Travel Film Scholarship would be a massive leap forward in my journey of becoming a travel filmmaker. Since studying abroad in Australia in 2014, I have been enraptured with the idea of infusing travel, adventure and filmmaking into my life. Currently, I am teaching English in South Korea, using this time to immerse myself into a new culture while saving money for future travels and improving my storytelling/filmmaking skills. Thus far, it has been a wild ride.
Upon graduation from university in May 2015, I traveled to the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador with a few professors from my alma mater to spend time with an indigenous tribe, known as the Sarayaku. The trip was part of an initiative to create a partnership between the university and the tribe. I was asked by the one of the professors to come along to film and document the journey and the relationship between us and the tribe. This left a deep impression on me, and once again, I was itching for more life-changing experiences. I was captivated by the raw feelings, emotions and energy that traveling provided.
Then, I reluctantly found myself back home in Massachusetts. I took a summer job at a local country club, and during those humid days tending to the “elite businessmen” with their flashy cars and swanky golf attire, I was constantly fighting the inner-dialogue telling me to get out there and continue exploring. On my off days, I began researching opportunities that would allow me to live and work abroad. As the summer winded down and the leaves began to take on their reddish and golden-brown hues, I decided to apply to teach English in South Korea. It took a great deal of planning and action, but that was now a year ago, and here I am writing this essay in my very own English classroom in Daegu, South Korea. It is crazy where a bit of ambition and risk-taking can bring you.
Picking up everything and living in a foreign country is certainly not an easy task, and there have been significant challenges and roadblocks on this new path. Since moving to Korea back in February, I have learned a great deal about who I am. My focus is to embrace the challenges and uncertainties that come along with this lifestyle. With this mindset, I created a website and a YouTube channel called ‘Break Your Boundaries’, a movement centered around traveling and filmmaking. My goal with Break Your Boundaries is to display my story of pursuing my passions with the intent of inspiring others to break free from their own personal restraints.
Maintaining a consistent vision in mind when creating my films keeps me motivated to push my creativity to new heights. Relating my craft to my outlook on life helps me in this process. I believe filmmaking is a metaphor for life— we’re all walking along this path, and we don’t know where it’s leading, but it is important to capture and share the best or most precious moments along the way. Recently, I have been attempting to infuse my films with honesty, authenticity and originality. Filmmaking, like life, requires careful attention to detail and constant adjustment.
One of the most important factors in personal success is adaptability, something that travel has taught me well. Having the ability to quickly and seamlessly adapt to a new environment is a skill that will surely help me in all my future endeavors.
At the moment, I’m in the planning stages of an extended backpacking trip throughout Southeast Asia upon the completion of my one-year teaching contract. I plan to create adventure films throughout my journey, and I hope to connect with fellow travelers and creatives in an effort to collaborate on meaningful and inspiring projects. Additionally, I’m part of an online community called Location Indie, which assists individuals like myself, who want to pursue a location-independent lifestyle.
The subject of my film is Rocio Cadena, a Mexican immigrant and aspiring writer, who shares the same values as me relating to travel and human connection. She embodies the notion of chasing after whatever is important to you and following that inner-voice. It was inspiring to hear her story, as she discovers that personal voice within herself.
Like all good travelers, I am also seeking discovery and self-growth. At its essence, travel is education about the world and our place in it. Since I decided to relentlessly pursue my dream of becoming a travel filmmaker, I feel that I have learned immensely, but I realize I have much more to learn. This scholarship would be an incredible stepping stone for me, as I am beyond eager to improve my storytelling and filmmaking skills. I hope you enjoy my film, and please consider selecting me for this remarkable and life-changing opportunity.
Check out the film below: