Paloma Criollo G’15

Discovering the World Through a Lens

During her LIU Global journey, Paloma Criollo G’15 documented the rich, colorful, and passionate experiences through the lens of her camera. Beginning in Costa Rica, she conducted an independent study in sustainable technologies, traveling across the mountainous terrain of the country to farms, villages, and power plants. She explored the comparative religions of Taiwan, Thailand, India, and Turkey, where she studied the Indian art of Banethi and learned how to capture the movement of fire through a lens. In China, Criollo learned Mandarin and interned at Social Entrepreneurial Institute, an incubator for nonprofit and NGOs in Shanghai, as well as Dragon Studios, a production company in Hangzhou. Here she also developed a passion for the relationship between the environment and visual arts, participating in an International Youth Environmental Conference.
Criollo conducted her Senior Independent Study in Limpopo, South Africa, where she produced a documentary while interning at the Global White Lion Protection Trust. “I worked alongside the local Shangaan Peoples of the Timbavati learning the ancestral knowledge, and assisted anthropologists and scientists working towards sustainability,” she said. “I will never forget the nights we would all sit by the fire after a long day’s work, under the stars in the middle of the bush, surrounded by zebras, wildebeest, impalas, and white lions. From the ecologist's theories to Shangaan elders stories, we all were listening and absorbing the profound knowledge and importance.”
Photography, videography, and drawing have been her outlets to express the profound beauty and sometime hard realities of this world. She plans to continue to explore creative media after graduation, but is not sure what lies ahead. “In Global, you learn to be incredibly adaptable, learning quickly and taking opportunity as it comes,” she said, continuing with the wisdom of a young woman who has earned a much more profound education than the traditional university has to offer: “Surrendering to uncertainty is not weakness, but the greatest power you can find within yourself.”

Tree Hill Meditation Center, Thailand
Tree Hill housed many novice monks who were orphaned. Here they attend school while sustaining their community by tending rice and vegetable fields while practicing Buddhist rituals. During our stay we experienced Theravada Buddhism first hand, starting around 5:30 a.m. for meditation led by elder monks, followed by many more cultural activities as well as English lessons led by the LIU Global students. Momp was among one of our students as well as my teacher about the Buddhist way of life.

Kashgar, Province of Xinjiang, China
During winter break I spent my days just walking around town near the boarder of Pakistan, among the Uygur people, an ethnic minority in China. It was never a dull day as Kashgar was filled with such diversity. This photo was taken near the famous leather bazar.

Yellow Mountains of Anhui Province, China
When we finally reached the top there was a long silence and a feeling of weightlessness came over our whole group and suddenly we were invisible among the clouds. We looked out into the mountain landscape and I felt a
part of everything. China was hard but the most rewarding country. We studied Mandarin for about five hours a day, along with our university work, and trying to live in a place that does not speak English. But in this moment, looking around at my Global family, we all grew so much within that year, without it, I would see the world in a completely different way.

Limpopo Province, South Africa
I attended the local cultural heritage festival honoring the new Suthu chief of the Bushbuckridge region. The day brought many groups like the Suthu, Spedei, and the Shangaan with around 500 local peoples sharing each other’s cultures through dance, song and food. This Suthu woman (center) was the leader of a dance group. She taught me a few dance moves that got more than a few laughs from the locals, including the chief, but I was saved by the Shangaan schools kids busting their moves out to steal the show (bottom). This day was one of my favorites, with such diversity and love for movement and song, it has a special place in my heart.