Background for the poem: On April 2, 2021 local time, a deadly train crash happened on the eastern shores of Taiwan, near Hualien and a scenic spot called Qingshui Cliffs in Taruko National Park. The train was heading from Taipei to the eastern city of Taitung. As of this writing, at least 50 were killed with many more injured.

Lotuses in the Taiwanese countryside in the western part of the island. Photo by author.

The island’s other name means beautiful

Densely populated on the coasts

Mountain range running down the middle like a spine

West facing a great power beyond the strait

East facing another great power across a great ocean

The eastern coast

sapphire…


Cory Richards surrounded by prayer flags in the Himalayas. Photo by Keith Ladzinski.

Cory Richards is one of the world’s elite mountain climbers and photographers, but underneath you’d find that he’s so much more than that. His convoluted and often difficult journey through life to get to where he is today is a story that I hope inspires empathy and understanding from all of us toward people struggling with mental health issues or addiction. And for those struggling with seemingly insurmountable problems in their lives, may his story shine a ray of hope.

When Richards was growing up in Salt Lake City, the outdoors roots were laid down early; he skied with his…


Bryan Giardinelli, the former campaign photographer for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign. Photo courtesy to Giardinelli’s Facebook.

In April 2019, I attended a Bernie Sanders rally in Pittsburgh so that I could write an article and shoot photos for my university’s newspaper. An aide granted my pre-rally request and took me to the backstage tent in Schenley Plaza to interview San Juan, Puerto Rico mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto. During the rally itself I stood in the media section amidst a small sea of tripods as clouds parted away the original forecast of storms and rain to reveal golden late afternoon sunshine, furiously taking notes and snapping photos.

But though these feature most prominently in my memory…


Photo courtesy of Chris Burkard.

The naturalist and conservationist John Muir famously said “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” Though this quote was written nearly 150 years ago, the spirit captured lives on in today’s adventurers and wilderness lovers. The ranks of adventurers in the wild certainly include photographer Chris Burkard.

Growing up in California, Burkard was raised by a single mother for the first 12 years of his life before she married Burkard’s stepdad. Though he did not have many opportunities to do outdoor activities such as camping and mountain climbing growing up, he fell in love with the outdoors once he…


Photo courtesy of Nadia Aly.

If you get to dive underwater, it can seem like stepping into a whole different world. Yet, this is where scientists hypothesize that all life originated, in some of the most alien conditions known to man that exist on Earth.

From the time that she was a young girl, Nadia Aly, wildlife photographer and founder of the website ScubaDiverLife.com, has loved stepping into that underwater world. She first started scuba diving in Jamaica as a child.

However, it wasn’t until 2010 that she truly found her heart’s calling in the blue of our blue marble. Aly had been working in…


Photo by Ami Vitale.

One microscopic virus can paralyze much of the world. But even in quarantine, one person has the ability to make a world of positive difference for others.

Award-winning National Geographic photographer Ami Vitale attests to the power of one individual to do good. As a photojournalist, she has spent years covering wildlife conservation stories.

But to her, they are more than just stories to be shared with the world. She has launched a variety of fundraising initiatives over the years to help and inspire others to support the people and wildlife she covers.

This spring, she has partnered with Omaze


Photo courtesy of Dick van Duijn.

Original article appeared on LA Times High School Insider.

In a grassy clearing on the outskirts of Vienna, Austria, a place that tends to be known more for music and art more than nature, Dutch wildlife photographer Dick van Duijn found a natural world in miniature that often goes unnoticed right near our feet.

Laying among the blades of spring-green grass with camera in hand, van Duijn had gone to this area especially to photograph the ground squirrels. The squirrels, though busy with their animal-world lives, nonetheless found time for curiosity about the wildflowers growing among the grass.

One squirrel…

Evangeline Liu

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