The Hot Pot Impresario

Long Xiang could barely cook — until he opened his own restaurant

By Yugi Zha

One year ago, Long Xiang, 22, was a junior Business Engineering major at Drexel University, and was a really bad cook.

Today, he is the owner of About Hotpot, the most popular Chinese hotpot restaurant in Philadelphia at 125 Sansom Walkway, and spends hours in the restaurant’s kitchen.

Hotpot is a traditional Chinese dish that uses a stove to keep a soup base boiling in the pot, which is where the name “hotpot” comes from. Raw meat and vegetable are placed into the pot and cooked at the table. The key element that determines the success of a hotpot is the soup base, which often takes hours and several complicated steps to make.

“Believe it or not, I couldn’t even make tomato fried egg,” said Xiang while preparing the secret weapon that makes About Hotpot so irresistible, the beef-tallow hotpot soup base, made from beef fat and various kinds of spices.

Tomato fried egg is a traditional Chinese dish that almost every Chinese learns to cook as teenagers.

Xiang stood in front of a huge pot of boiling beef-tallow with a large silver soup ladle, wearing a pair of long cooking gloves that go all the way to his shoulders. The brown scorch marks on the blue gloves tell the difficulty of this process.

“It’s hot,” said Xiang. “By ‘hot’ I mean 170 °C (338 °F) to 200 °C (392 °F).”

He constantly paid careful attention to the heat while talking, added more than 10 different spices in the designated  order and kept stirring with the soup ladle.

“This is a really painstaking process,” said Xiang. “…Sometimes I stopped stirring for only 15 seconds to answer a phone call. When I come back, the spices were charred. Boom! Everything is over.”

The spices are the soul of the beef-tallow hotpot soup base, which give it the desired color, smell and taste, said Xiang. Only a special kind of each spice works for the recipe, which must be airlifted to the U.S. from Szechuan, China, the origin of beef-tallow hotpot.

“For example, Mexican chili doesn’t work,” said Xiang while adding the dried chilis to the tallow. “It is spicy enough, but it can’t give the soup base the same tempting smell as the chili we use.”

It was not surprising that half an hour later, when finally there was a free cook staff to take over the work, Xiang took off the gloves and poured sweat like running water out of them.

“The whole process takes three hours,” said Xiang before he went to change the clothes, “We only have 12 staff. Four of them are cooks. So I have to help with the kitchen a lot.”

When I asked about how he became an expert on cooking who designs many of the popular dishes of About Hotpot in one year, Xiang laughed and sighed, “There is no shortcut—practice and time.”

When Xiang appeared at a dining table outside the kitchen a couple minutes later, he had changed to a black sweater, a pair of jeans and a pair of white sneakers, looking just like any ordinary college senior. You would not expect him to be the owner of the most popular hotpot restaurant in Philadelphia. Yet he is different—confident, eloquent, with the astuteness of a businessman in his eyes.

Xiang was born in Shanghai, China, and grew up in China until he came to Michigan for high school. He then came to Philadelphia to go to Drexel University in 2013. Although he has spent 9 years in the U.S., he is still a Chinese citizen.

About Hotpot is not the first business Xiang has owned. Xiang was interested in IT when he entered the college. In 2013, he opened a business with his friends, providing technology services like designing a computer server architecture. He even gapped for a year to run this business.

In 2015, Xiang thought he had accumulated enough resources and network in this field to set up an internet cafe in Chinatown, Philadelphia. It was a high-end internet gaming cafe: Intel launched their newest version of server architecture in his cafe and Razor provided all the gaming devices. However, the internet cafe was closed in 2016, due to “internal conflict,” as Xiang described it..

“The failure beat me really hard,” said Xiang, “I became a joke and I was desperate to prove myself.”

During summer vacation of 2016, after the internet cafe was closed, Xiang met with his friends at his house, discussing what they could do next. One of his friends brought a pack of beef-tallow hotpot seasoning from his hometown, so they decided to have some hotpot while thinking. It was Xiang’s first time he ate beef-tallow hotpot.

“This is damn good!” said Xiang. “What about a hotpot restaurant?”

This was the birth of About Hotpot.

However, neither Xiang nor his friends had any previous experience about running a restaurant. Xiang was grateful that people he got to know during his work at the Chinese Student and Scholars Association at Drexel University provided a great amount of help.

“Network and connections make a whole difference,” said Xiang. “You can’t open a Chinese restaurant in Philadelphia without a good relationship with those elders in Chinatown.”

Xiang spent much time entertaining those predecessors of Chinese restaurants in Philadelphia to build his connections. Because of the excessive drinking culture of Chinese networking, Xiang gained about 50 pounds in this process, which he described as “an industrial injury”.

On the website of About Hotpot, it says, “We aim to bring you the most fresh ingredient. That’s why we work so hard to source locally.”

The fresh ingredient is “the core competence of About Hotpot”, as Xiang put it. Xiang has to drive about 500 miles for more than 15 hours per week, visiting a couple of markets in New York, New Jersey and around Philadelphia to get the ingredients of the best quality.

He used to be fond of driving ,but now, he said with a wry smile, “A job kills a hobbit.”

“Most customers may not be able to tell the difference between different levels of beef, but I do,” said Xiang. “Because this restaurant carries my ideas and faith, it’s worth those efforts.”

On February 10, 2017, 10 days after About Hotpot opened, the after-party for Philadelphia Four College Spring Festival Gala Show was held in it. Xiang was exhausted that night. But when he watched 120 people fill up the restaurant, celebrating and cheering, he finally felt, “I did it.”

Now every weekend night, About Hotpot serves 300 people on average. You may need to wait more than one hour for a seat during the peak hours, from 7 pm to 10 pm.

“All the toughness I’ve been through made me who I am,” Xiang looked around his restaurant and said proudly. “About Hotpot is not about money or career. It is about youth and dream.”

 

The History Behind the Accent

Veronica Montes long journey from Mexico to Bryn Mawr 

By Azalia Sprecher

Since crossing the U.S.-Mexico border at age 18 in 1988, professor Veronica Montes of the Bryn Mawr College Sociology department has dedicated herself to building bridges between the classes she teaches and her life experiences.

Montes, a petite woman with a large presence and lively eyes, energetically entered her classroom one recent Monday afternoon and greeted her students who had just returned from spring break. They mumbled a hello.

“Okay, who had a fun spring break? Any cool trips?”

She looked around, hopeful and expecting her students to respond, but to no avail. She smacked her lips and picked a student.

“Amanda, I know you did something fun. Tell us about it!”

Montes’ enthusiasm for teaching is undeniable, and she is adamant in connecting with her students. It helps that she is motherly, emitting a warm and welcoming presence that can lift the spirits of any post-spring break college student. Another undeniable characteristic that sets Montes apart from other Bryn Mawr professors is the songlike accent that carries her words to the ears and hearts of her students. Accents are usually the first thing one looks for when pointing out a foreigner, but what most people don’t think about is the journey behind the accent.

Professor Veronica Montes

Montes was born in the state of Guerrero, Mexico in 1970 to a working-class family who struggled to make ends meet. The family decided to relocate to Mexico City, and as a teen in Mexico’s largest city, Montes had dreams of continuing her life in the nation and culture she loved. All that changed during the 1980s when Mexico’s economy took a turn for the worst as the value of Mexican currency plummeted. The Montes household lost everything, and after her father abandoned his wife and children, Montes’ mother was left to fend for the family. She was the first to migrate to Los Angeles in 1986 with the help of a coyote, a smuggler who aids migrants in illegally crossing the border. The Montes children stayed behind to finish their education.

“Like thousands of migrant women, my mother did not know what she would face once she stepped on American soil,” said Montes about her mother’s decision to leave her children behind.

Montes’ mother found work as a seamstress and sent her children money so they could focus on school. Montes and her older sister graduated high school in 1988 and their mother immediately arranged for them to travel by bus from Mexico City to the border town of Tijuana. Here the two teenagers and their five-year-old sister met the coyote who would smuggle them across the border.

“Okay, let’s break up into small groups and answer the following questions: What do you know about your family migration history? What would you like to know about that migration experience that you do not know? Share one thing you admire from your family’s migration experience .”

Montes highlights student experiences in her “Sociology of Migration” class. Her focus is on what students can take away from the theory in the textbooks and how they can apply it to their lives. Unlike most other teachers, who expect students to understand complex theories without connecting them to real life, Montes always uses personal narratives to ground her explanations of migratory theories. Montes managed to explain labor laws, political asylum processes, education and migration without referencing a textbook. Instead she used the stories her students told about their personal migration stories to illustrate how U.S. laws affected people’s decision to migrate.

“Come on, we all have to share our stories. Think about how your family’s migration history has affected you,” said Montes as she excitedly rubbed her hands together and smiled, shooting her excited look across student faces.

Montes is adamant about focusing on the needs of her students and brings a compassion that allows her to relate, especially to those who have a similar background as her. She remembers the difficulties she faced as a student in the United States, beginning as a cashier at Burger King who took English classes at night, then earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2001, and eventually gained her Ph.D. at the same institution in 2013.

But Montes didn’t always want to be a professor. Montes’ eyes light up as she remembers her educational journey and she is transported back to a younger, less experienced self.

“My decision wasn’t very thought out, and I did not have the slightest idea of what it entailed to earn a PhD,” said Montes.

The decision to go to graduate school was circumstantial since she never imagined herself achieving more than a bachelor’s degree. Montes’ husband, Diego, was offered a job at the University of California, Santa Barbara, but to avoid a long commute to Los Angeles, Montes, her husband, and their young daughter moved to Santa Barbara in 2005. Montes was unsure about her career options in Santa Barbara, so her undergraduate mentor, Dr. William Robinson, suggested she apply to graduate school.

Montes was unsure of her ability to succeed in graduate school. She was reluctant to apply, and Robinson had to convince her to submit her application after she initially failed the Graduate Records Examination and missed the first application deadline.

Montes describes her journey as “learning on the go”. As a first-generation college student and a migrant, she was not familiar with the U.S. education system and was scared at the prospect of being a 35-year-old graduate student surrounded by younger twentysomethings who did not have to spend hours crouched over a textbook with an English-Spanish dictionary in hand.

She has a matter of fact approach to explaining the obstacles she encountered, but as she talks about the frustration she felt while in graduate school, her brow furrows and the light in her eyes dims. Her frown reflects the many years she fought self-doubt.

“The terminology used in class was daunting, and I considered quitting many times. I remember running out of a seminar one day, crying and feeling like a fool. The only thing that kept me motivated was thinking ‘If I crossed a border, I can finish grad school’,” said Montes.

Montes received her PhD in 2013 and arrived at Bryn Mawr College in 2015, and admitted she was nervous that her Mexican accent would mark her as an outsider amongst faculty.

“I was ashamed of my accent because of the discrimination I’ve faced. Now I love it because I appreciate the story behind my accent.”

Montes still finds it difficult to navigate “froufrou” academic spaces because she still sees herself as a migrant girl from Los Angeles.

“I’m expected to be objective and take on a persona that to me feels fake, but I cannot isolate myself from my own experience.”

Montes is the only Latina and immigrant professor in the sociology department, but was happy to have organized the Day of the Dead celebration at Bryn Mawr this past November. She is proud to have share her Mexican culture with other students and professors.

“I don’t pretend to be something I’m not, I am who I am, and this is how I present myself. It’s not that I’m not formal—well, I’m not— but I’m very honest and transparent” she said earnestly.

Montes honors the stories of those she encounters, both her students and the communities she bases her research on. Her research focuses on the intersection of gender and migration, and she specializes on the role that gender plays in the design and maintenance of migrant household economies. Montes’ studies are reminiscent of her family’s structure as migrant children supported by a migrant single mother.

Montes’ humility and own migration experience have helped her build relationships with other migrants, gaining their trust so she can tell their stories. Her investigation is personal, and she can understand her research because her experience fits within her research.

“My investigation is nurtured by my experiences, and like me, it transcends barriers and all types of borders that exist between communities.”

Montes has spent the greater part of her life defined by a border, and she does not intend for barriers to stand in the way of her work or her identity. She has entered each of her endeavors with an open and humble heart, not as a pretender, but as someone común y corriente– common and simple.

 

 

 

Bringing Them Back Home

and

A Philadelphia planner is trying to bring people into the city.

By Joseph Staruski

Decades ago, America saw a great decline in urban populations as many people in the middle class moved to the suburbs. Gregory Krykewycz is hoping that that trend will change and that people might move back to urban spaces. In fact, he’s planning on it.

A mild-mannered academic urban planner, Krykewycz loves to talk about city planning. Bicycles, pedestrians, trains: these are the types of things that Krykewycz thinks about on a daily basis as an instructor at Drexel University, a volunteer at the Media Borough Environmental Advisory Council, and the Associate Director of Transportation for the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

Greg Krykewycz

Why does he want to see people move back to the city? Well, mostly because it is good for the environment.

When he was younger, Krykewycz saw himself being an environmental planner. His hope was to buy up land outside of the city and prevent people from developing there. He wanted to directly fight back against the progress of suburban development and save the natural environment around the city.

“But I really quickly learned, once I got into school, that it’s really expensive,” said Krykewycz. So, he took a different approach. His plan now is to make the city so great that people simply do not want to move away. “It is better to make the developed places more attractive so that the development pressure outward is reduced and you get organic preservation of land as opposed to just buying everything up” he said.

Krykewycz likes what he does so much that he volunteers his time with the Media Borough Environmental Advisory Council. He has lived in Media, a borough west of Philadelphia near Swarthmore College, for four years and has volunteered there for most of that time.

He said he is currently working on the Media Borough Bike Plan as well as planning for an open streets event in the fall. The bike plan is an attempt to improve bicycle infrastructure in the borough especially by creating bicycle lanes. An open streets event is when a road is temporarily closed to its regular automobile traffic and opened up to pedestrians, bicycles, and activities.

Krykewycz also teaches at Drexel University a course called “Introduction to Urban and Environmental Planning.” He enjoys working with students who share his interests, saying, “they come to the planning class with the same environmental mindset I had when I discovered the profession.” He introduces them to the unique field of urban planning, which many might not have thought about before.

One of the projects Krykewycz worked on a few years ago was the Community Investment Index. He and his colleagues created maps to help investors decide where they should invest based on previous investments. He said, “when you’re an investor, you don’t want to be playing whack-a-mole.” Investors, instead, want to know exactly the right places to invest in order to be successful.

The planning agency’s goal was to get people to invest in the same areas repeatedly. This would directly prevent development in new suburban areas and preserve the natural environment. As Krykewycz elegantly put it, “Environmental planning is housing planning. It is all the same stuff.”

Another project Krykewycz recently undertook could end up saving dozens of lives.

US Route 1 known as Roosevelt Boulevard stretches through Northeast Philadelphia from Hunting Park to Neshaminy Mall in Bensalem. Thirty people died on Roosevelt Boulevard in only four years between 2009 and 2013 according to a report by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

Talking slowly and articulating his words, Krykewycz said that the road mixes lots of pedestrians with high-speed traffic: a dangerous combination. He said, “it’s a really unique roadway in a bad way… there’s a lot of crashes.”

Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission

Krykewycz is trying to change things. He and his colleagues have drafted multiple plans that would physically alter the roadway to make it appear more dangerous to drivers. Apparent danger makes people pay more attention and slow down. They add things like larger curbs, trees, curved intersections, and large crosswalks that make drivers recognize that there are pedestrians and that they need to slow down.

Some of their options do not cost a lot of money for the state and they can make a major difference in the overall safety of a road.

But even with all this work to can be difficult to get things done sometimes. One if the hardest parts of his job is getting people from different towns to work together. “We’ve got 351 local governments in our region. That’s a lot” said Krykewycz. All those different interests can lead to some strange phenomena.

For instance, Krykewycz explained that sometimes development occurs more on the borders of municipalities because each individual municipal government wants the traffic impact of new buildings to be shared with its neighbor. That is not necessarily something that is good from a planning perspective, but it is something that Krykewycz encounters occasionally regardless.

In the end, Krykewycz is hopeful and optimistic. He does not think the world is so bad, but he wants to make it better. He even admits, “Our long-range plan is kind of boring.” With his calm manner, looking through black glasses, he expressed his love for places that feel authentic especially the city.

Swimming Against the Tide

How one female school thrives in a tough enviroment

By Aliya Chaudhry                                                                                                                                                       

It is a tough time for women’s colleges, but not for Bryn Mawr.

Despite the college’s small size, the declining popularity of women’s colleges and the rising price of college tuition, Bryn Mawr College is thriving, with application numbers increasing each year, according to Marissa Turchi, associate dean of admissions.Bryn Mawr logo

Bryn Mawr College is a small liberal arts college for women located outside Philadelphia. It has roughly 1,300 students, with around 370 students enrolling each year, according to the college’s website.

This year, the college enrolled its largest class in history. The class of 2019 had 389 students, according to the college’s website.

The acceptance rate, now at 38 percent, is decreasing, while enrollment is increasing, according to Peaches Valdes, dean of undergraduate admissions.

It is up to the admissions office to process the growing number of applications and select the students who get admitted.

Inside Admissions

Bryn Mawr College receives roughly 2,700 applications a year, according to the college’s website. These applications are read by an admissions team of 20 people.

According to Valdes, of those 20 admissions officers, five are part of outreach and recruitment, three work in campus visits and events and seven work in operations, which is the team that collects application materials.

Admissions officers work year-round. In the fall, they spend three to eight weeks traveling across the globe.

They spend November through March reading applications. In April, the admissions officers focus on admitted students as they visit campus, attend events and select which institution to attend.

Admissions officers travel in the spring to recruit the next class of students. In the summer, they reflect on the past year and start preparing for the next, along with doing more traveling and hosting more events.

Reading applications is just one of the admissions officers’ many responsibilities. But it’s an important one.

“Just like a student is diverse and multi-faceted, so is our process,” said Valdes, who graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1999.

When an application is submitted, it is given to the officer who handles the region the applicant comes from. Each admissions officer is assigned certain territories, and they are responsible for knowing information about schools in those areas and for contacting high school counselors there.

Thirty-five percent of Bryn Mawr’s students come from the Mid-Atlantic while 13 percent come from the West, according to the college’s website. The states from which Bryn Mawr received the most applicants in 2015 were California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Texas and Virginia, according to Turchi.

May Day is one of Bryn Mawr's many traditions

May Day is one of Bryn Mawr’s many traditions

Each application is read by two to four admissions officers. Some are brought to committee, where the admissions officers discuss the applications at greater length.

Valdes said, “We have multiple people looking at it so it gives us a good sense that when we bring a student to campus we know that we’ve done all the checks and balances in the sense of academic fit, social fit, potential for growth, desire to have a transformative experience.” Continue reading

Ghostly Selfies

Ghosts are hogging the picture in some selfies

By Ava Hawkinson

                                                                                                              

Only Peaches Geldof and her young son Astala were bathing in the bathtub. But the selfie, which Geldof took, revealed a third presence sitting right behind them.

The picture, taken in 2013, shows a small hand, which rests on Geldof’s shoulder and clasps a chunk of her long blonde hair.

These four bony fingers are neither transparent nor blurry. They look as real and alive as Geldof and her son.

Selfie Ghost 2 Geldof later uploaded the selfie to Instagram and captioned it, “Close up shot of the mystery ghost hand in the pic I took of Astala and me In the bath!! And no that isn’t my hand – one of mine was around his waist to hold him during the photo, the other holding the camera to take the shot. Also the hand is around my shoulder so totally weird angle if I did it myself!! How terrifying!! I am shitting myself! #haunted #ghost.”

Geldof claimed that the hand in the photo was that of a woman who died 100 years ago.

Apparently Geldof’s South East England home was built by a man and his pregnant wife, and the wife later miscarried and spiraled into a deep depression. She ended up drowning herself in the house’s bathtub, Geldof said, according to Huffington Post.

Rise of spirit selfies

Geldof’s selfie is only one of many selfies that have gone viral over recent years for documenting ghost-like presences. There are hundreds of “spirit selfies” all over the internet.

Earlier this year, a blurry face floated over a woman’s nose as she took a picture of her newly-dyed light blonde hair.

A couple weeks ago, Julian Eltinge, a famous actor who died in 1941, is said to have appeared in a selfie a couple took while dining at a New Orleans restaurant.

There are countless other selfies like these.

Since the late 1800s, people have claimed to capture ghosts lurking in the backgrounds of their photographs, but this claim was never as widespread as it is today.

It seems that every week a new picture becomes viral which has a ghostly presence in it. And, strangely enough, most of these pictures are selfies.

Continue reading

Blended Learning

BRYN MAWR COLLEGE WORKS TO CHANGE THE CLASSROOM  EXPERIENCE

By Emilia Otte

In the high-tech atmosphere of today’s universities, the chalkboard still has a place.

Even with the rise of its fiercest competitor to date, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), studies continue to show that face-to-face learning is more effective than online instruction.

However, educators are realizing that there is no reason why they can’t bring the rivaling models together for the overall good of higher education. This combination of a traditional classroom with online materials creates “blended learning”.

After blended learning had some success at large universities, administrators at Bryn Mawr College, a small liberal arts women’s college in Pennsylvania, wondered if the system could apply equally well to an institution like theirs.

In the 2011-2012 school year, Bryn Mawr received a $250,000 grant from the NGLC (Next Generation Learning Challenges). In fall of 2011, the faculty launched 18 blended introductory STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses. Students in lower-level biology, chemistry, and geology courses took online quizzes, watched online tutorials, and practiced basic math skills needed for the class. Professors did not have to reduce time spent in the classroom- and none of them did.

At the end of the semester, 93.5 percent of the students in the blended courses earned a merit grade (2.0 or better), versus 83 percent of students in traditional STEM classes. The average grades for the biology, chemistry, and geology courses were significantly higher than they had been in the past.

Bryn Mawr President Kim Cassidy

Bryn Mawr President Kim Cassidy

The next year, liberal arts colleges across the country developed blended courses on their own campuses. Macalester College used computer-based games and experiments for an introductory economics course. Oberlin College incorporated Skype sessions into one of its Spanish classes. A professor at Lafayette College “flipped” an introductory statistics class -students watched the lectures online and used class time to work through problem sets.

In total, according to the NGLC study’s official website, 25 small liberal arts colleges created over 40 blended learning courses for the 2012-2013 school year. None of the Bryn Mawr professors teaching the original 18 courses stopped using blended methods. This more than doubled the total number of blended courses offered at liberal arts colleges in a single year, and the trend continues to spread in small colleges across the United States. Continue reading

The Red Lips Project

WOMEN EMPOWERING WOMEN THROUGH A PHOTO PROJECT

By Kyra Sagal      

Since September, Aditi Kulkarni, 19, at Swarthmore College, has been photographing women wearing red lipstick and asking them: What makes you feel powerful?

“As a photographer, I have always been fascinated by the imagery of red lips. To me, red symbolizes power; it is a sign of strength and courage” said Kulkarni.

Thus, a project known as Dark Skin Red Lips, created by Karyn Washington, where women of color posted pictures of themselves wearing red lipstick, began. Kulkarni said, “These pictures were just one way in which women were able to fight back the beauty norms and instead revel in their own ideals.” The Dark Skin Red Lips project inspired Kulkarni to create her own project, the Red Lips Project, over the summer.

One photo on the Facebook page features Osazenoriuwa Ebose, a senior at Swarthmore College, staring assertively into the camera. Accompanying the picture, her quote says “I wear my dignity; I share my love freely. I feel fear for the future, but I do not shy from it. I feel powerful because I know my worth and the worth of others around me. I feel powerful because I respect my past. I feel powerful because I am Osazenoriuwa Osamede Ebose; there is none other like me in the world.”Red Lips

Kulkarni’s project mirrors work being done by photographers/journalists around the country who are capturing the images and words of people they encounter to try to tell larger stories about their lives.

One of the first and most influential of these is Humans of New York (HONY). In 2010, Brandon Stanton created HONY, intending to photograph 10,000 individuals and eventually plot their location and photograph on a map. Then, Stanton began collecting quotes, and the blog became something different. He says on his website, “With over eight million followers on social media, HONY now provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City.”

Yasmin Gentry, a journalist for The Quad at BostonUniversity, said, “Since HONY’s birth in the summer of 2010, Stanton has inspired others to take his lead. Photographers capture citizens in cities like Tehran, Tel Aviv, Sydney, Boston, Toronto, and Oslo.”

Just like HONY, Kuljkarni’s project is beginning to spread to other cities. Her Campus at American University, an online magazine, held a Red Lips Project event on campus November 11 after finding Kulkarni’s blog online. After reaching out to Kulkarni and expressing interest in holding an event, Her Campus asked students to wear red lipstick and “tell us what makes you feel powerful.” According to Kulkarni, the event was successful.

Alex Sanyal, 19, was one of the first subjects of Kulkarni’s photos. She said, “The Red Lips project is an inspiration, as are Aditi and Madeline – the faces behind it. They are inspiring girls across campuses all over the northeast to empower themselves and to appreciate themselves.”

The Red Lips Project is a movement of female empowerment, and it is only one of many projects focusing on people and their lives in the photos. Many photographers have been inspired by the “Humans of” projects, which photograph people in a specific area or community reveal the diverse and unique perspectives of individuals. Continue reading