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Photographers prepare to cut the ribbon to open the exhibit
The opening of the Exhibit in Chicago provided a wonderful opportunity (and excuse) to have something of a party. An official opening was scheduled for Saturday June 9th, and more than 40 people, including photographers, members of the media, families and friends, attended.

The youngest photographer in the project, Sahir Raza aged 14, flew unacompanied all the way from Delhi, India to attend the event. Sahir's school and the Sanskriti Foundation had sponsored his trip, and he was met at Chicago Airport by representatives from the Project and the Dept. of Aviation. It was his first time visiting the United States and he was obviously tremendously excited (if a little exhausted!) from his 17 hour journey.

Sahir Raza, aged 14 with his photo
- Connie Wragge
Sahir's achievement at being selected for the exhibit was recognized by His Excellency Surendra Kumar, Consul General India. Mr Kumar wanted to meet Sahir in person and took time out from his busy schedule to attend the opening, and share a personal tour of the exhibit with Sahir.

Another photographer who travelled a great distance was Carlos Roberto from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. His photo 'Baby on the Internet' is a popular photo in the exhibit, and he was determined to be at the opening whatever it took! Both photographers took the opportunity of course to pose for photos in front of their work.

Carlos Roberto and 'Baby on the Internet'
- Connie Wragge
The opening reception itself was held in the British Airways First Class Lounge at O'Hare. British Airways Chicago generously donated their facilities for the event, and even laid on the drinks! There were speeches, photo-taking, drinks and more photo taking (or is that more drinks? - Ed).

Then it was time for the big event - the opening of the exhibit itself. All the photographers in attendance gathered to cut the ribbon that would signify the exhibit was officially open. For once, there wasn't a photographer to take the picture! Luckily friends were on hand to do the honours.

After the ribbon cutting, everyone took a relaxed walkthrough of the exhibit, with the photographers and their families getting to see the exhibit for the first time.

Celebrating with a meal!
The festivities were not over at that point however. The die-hards among the group decided to meet up afterwards for a meal at a Chicago restaurant. This was then followed with a photo taking excursion (of course!) which took in the observation deck of the Sears Tower, and the night-time fireworks display at Navy Pier.

On the whole it was a tremendously enjoyable day for all concerned, with the main thrill being the excitement of having met in a virtual community, and then to meet in real life in the physical world.

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