Connections Easily Made In Liberia

Together Liberia Project. Steve Kollie, 36, looks to the ocean’s horizon on Sophies Beach, Congo Town, Liberia. Photo by Bruce Strong

It’s all about connections in the new Liberia, just as it is everywhere else on the planet.

That said, I still was a bit taken aback with the information I gleaned the other day while strolling on the Atlantic Ocean beach just a quarter-mile from the guest house where we are staying.

On the sands, I ran into a young man and his dog. We shared a laugh when we introduced ourselves and heard an echo.

Steve, meet Steve.

My new friend Steve Kollie was a bit shy but warmed quickly. We exchanged basic bio information, and I learned that he has a pretty good job, fixing the government-provided cars of the national legislators at their capitol building in downtown Monrovia. He showed me a couple pictures of the cars, including one of his favorites, a Dodge Durango.

“I’d like to meet some senators,” I said. “Perhaps I can come to work with you someday and you can show me around.”

“Sure,” he said. “Would you like some of their phone numbers?”

He tabbed to his address book and gave me two. The names check out, and I am sure the numbers will, too.

About Bruce Strong

Bruce Strong is a multimedia storyteller who likes to work with cool people on awesome projects. Life is too short to do anything else. He has shot in nearly 61 countries.

Bruce was on staff at The Orange County Register in Southern California for 11 years and has freelanced for a variety of international publications and non-profit organizations. His work has earned numerous awards and two fellowships—The Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan and the Knight Fellowship at Ohio University. When he’s not on the field, Bruce spends a lot of time helping others learn to tell stories of significance.

Currently, he’s an associate professor at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where he teaches an array of video, audio, photography and multimedia courses. Teaching has been a rewarding and enlightening journey, and he is proud of his students, many of whom—while still students—have won top honors from NPPA, POY, World Press and BOP. He also had the good fortune of mentoring back-to-back College Photographer of the Year winners, Matt Eich and Travis Dove.

This year, Bruce was honored with a 2010 Meredith Teaching Recognition Award from Syracuse University and the National Press Photographers Association’s Robin F. Garland Educator of the Year Award. But Bruce is most proud of his two young sons, Jack and Cole, and loves adventuring through life with his visual journalist/professor wife, Claudia.