As part of this year’s WildChina Explorer Grant competition, TOMS shoes is offering a special prize to the 2 applicants that they think best represent their philosophy of ‘Soulful’ exploration. For TOMS, a Soulful Explorer embodies a unique character that is full of curiosity. They were looking for applicants that are willing to go the extra mile to seek an untold story and who are an inspiration to others through their perspectives and deeds.
Now that applications have closed, TOMS have made the tough decision of choosing their soulful explorers.
Here are the winners:
Hailing from the UK, environmental journalist Beth Walker studied Mandarin at Oxford University. She has previously lived in lived in Beijing, Qingdao and Kunming and has spent years exploring the environmental challenges facing China, the Himalayas and the rivers that rise there. She has a passion for music and is fascinated by the interconnections between music and the environment.
Beth’s proposed expedition will take her down the Salween River (known as the Nu in China and the Thanlwin in Myanmar). There she will record the folk songs and music of people living along the river’s remote and rapidly changing banks. The Salween is the region’s last largely free flowing river and an area of rich cultural and ecological diversity. The material she collects will be used to create an interactive cultural map of the Salween River the showcases songs, festivals, legends, and local languages as well as the physical geography of the river.
American born photographer, Aaron Berkovich developed a deep interest in anthropology whilst studying at American University in Washington DC. He first moved to China initially on a study abroad program and since being here he has seen how China’s long and complex history brings with it a variety of dishes, each making a mark on the taste buds of its residents and visitors.
In an ever-developing country, Aaron and his teammate Jiehao Chen seek to embark on a journey that will take a step back in time, and into the kitchens of cultural stewards. They will document the ﬂavors and aromas that emerge from the recipes of ethnic minority ancestors in Yunnan, Sichuan, Xinjiang and in doing so, allow a wider audience to better understand ethnic culture and identity.
This year, the choice of 5 WildChina Explorer Grant finalists is in YOUR hands. Here are the top 3 as it stands on Sunday February 21st:
1st Place: Ryder Stroud
2nd Place: Aaron Berkovich
3rd Place: Dongrui Yu
Voting is still open so check out the full leaderboard and vote to make sure your favorite goes onto the judges table. Only the top 5 applicants, as chosen by the public, will be in with the chance of winning $5000 to make their exploration dream a reality.