James Mixon, a Belmont senior and philosophy major, is spending his summer documenting the lives of African porters and guides on the mountains of East Africa. Hoping to tell the stories of these tour guides, Mixon is creating a documentary that highlights what he calls the “unique subculture” of African tourism. Examining the danger behind being a porter, Mixon’s work will feature what draws porters to the mountains, the pace of work and why they decide to take on such a physically taxing profession.
Throughout the semester, Mixon spent a considerable amount of time organizing the trip–focusing on the logistics of filming abroad, studying East Africa’s national parks and furthering his familiarity with his project. He worked with Belmont’s Honors Program and received a Lumos Travel Award to organize and fund the project.
Mixon will travel throughout Kenya throughout the next few months, but his main expeditions will be to Mt. Meru and Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Looking forward to his project, Mixon said he knows this summer holds an immense amount of discovery, adventure and passion. “I’m excited to be in the African wilderness all summer,” Mixon said. “In a strange sort of way, there’s no place I feel more at home.”
He also points to the project as an opportunity to combine all of his loves into one experience — and a way to explore what he could do after graduation. “I love the mountains and the culture that surrounds them, and I want to make a career out of something climbing-related, but I also enjoy storytelling, photography and writing. This project is a chance to see how (and if) I can make all of it happen at once.”