December 09, 2016, BY Paula Cogan Myers

Studying abroad can be a life-changing experience for undergraduates, as they expand their perspectives in an increasingly interconnected world. This year's winners of Bucknell's International Photo Contest, which took place during International Education Week, Nov. 14–18, submitted photos that they say reflect the impact their international experiences had on them.

The U.S. Department of State and the Department of Education started International Education Week in 2000 as a way to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange. Now it is observed at schools and campuses in more than 100 countries. Bucknell celebrates the November tradition annually.

"Our aim is for the entire campus community to gain a deeper appreciation of our interconnected, global world," said Anita Casper, global education adviser. "We recognize the many international events that happen on campus during the entire month of November, which include student organization dinners, arts and cultural programming and events with an academic focus. This year the Office of Global & Off-campus Education coordinated 'Viewpoints on Immigration from Abroad,' a panel discussion that presented a personal side to this complicated issue as students, staff and faculty shared their stories."

The photo contest has become an important aspect of the week, said Jennifer Figueroa, director of International Student Services, whose office coordinates the contest. "The annual International Education Week Photo Contest allows us to publicly appreciate and celebrate the artistic expression, learning and cultural appreciation that can happen through travel," said Figueroa. "Our students submit photos taken outside of their home country, and they remind us to explore other cultures, learn from each other and embrace the unknown."

This year's winners were chosen from 93 entries in five categories: cityscape, animals and wildlife, nature, people, and culture and traditions. See their photos — and the stories behind them — below. Photos will be on display in Bertrand Library through January. 

Winner – Cityscape

Nono Fan '20, undeclared management
Studies abroad in: United States
Photo taken in: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

"As an international student from China, I am now studying abroad. I love traveling and have been to many different countries. I think this experience lets me accept different cultures and people easily. I am always curious about different countries and cultures and want to learn more about them in my future study."

Title: Jumeriah. “This photo was taken at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque three years ago when I traveled to Abu Dhabi. This is the biggest mosque in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and it was constructed of white marble stones, which looks very holy and splendid. The main idea of building this mosque was to unite the cultural diversity of the Islamic world. I chose this photo first because of its framing — the white mosque with blue water is very beautiful. This place is a symbol of the UAE and is open to the public. Visiting this place can lead people to learn more profound ideas about Islam and its culture.”

Winner – Animals and Wildlife

Payton Kirkpatrick '17, biology
Studied abroad: Spring 2016, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Photo taken in: Wanaka, New Zealand

"My study abroad experience was very important to my education at Bucknell. By studying abroad I got to experience what a different educational setting was like, and better engage with the aspects of Bucknell's educational system when I returned to school the following fall." 

Tree in Wanaka, New Zealand
Title: A Full House. “This image shows a strong balance between natural elements of different types. The water, mountains, tree, birds and sky all have the capability of captivating the viewer, which makes for a compelling picture. This image was taken on the shore of Lake Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand. I knew that I had to take a crack at a picture of this famous tree. I went hiking in the area with a few of my friends and then posted up near the tree waiting for the sunset. The image I failed to capture was the one happening behind me. As the sun set, more and more photographers came to take pictures of the tree in front of the setting sun. It was weird to be surrounded by so many people all trying to capture the same image as me, at the same time.”

Winner – Nature

Khoi Le '18, computer science
Studied abroad: Summer 2016, Kyoto, Japan
Photo taken in: Kyoto, Japan

Green - Kyoto, Japan
Title: Green. Taken during the 2016 summer program, Sustainability in Japan, which was based in Kyoto. The group visited this garden near Kyoto to explore environmental sustainability. The interdepartmental course was designed to examine Japan’s pressing need for sustainability of resources economically, politically, culturally and sociologically in relationship to its position as a global leader, member of the G8 Consortium and third-largest world economy.

Winner – People

Morgan Robison '17, markets, innovation & design and studio art
Studied abroad: Spring 2016, Semester at Sea
Photo taken in: Mui Ne, Vietnam

"Studying abroad is an essential component to who I have become today. As someone who loves to learn, studying abroad made the world my campus, and although there is no way to make that not sound cliche, it is the truth. I felt the widest and most intense range of emotions and found commonalities with those who have lived very different lives than my own. It exposed me to what is really important, and it impacted how I want to spend my time after college. It gave me the push out of the nest I needed to know there is still a great unknown to navigate, and it opened my heart to do so fearlessly."

Title: Onward. “This photograph was taken on Mui Ne beach, Vietnam. This was a local beach, and since we were there during Tet, many families were on vacation celebrating the holiday. It was a great reflection of where locals spend time together — at night families would crowd the streets and pass food around celebrating the new year. The ice cream man was an essential part to the celebration. During the day in the hot sun, he joyously moved up and down the beach turning the ice cream to sell to families. Although we never interacted, his soft warm smile spoke volumes of how Tet brought everyone together. He was a giver during the holidays, and that sense of community seen in his face is the same sense of welcome I experienced as a guest.”

Winner – Culture and Traditions

Alexa Presto '17, interdepartmental
Studied abroad: Fall 2015, Semester at Sea
Photo taken in: Sahara Desert, Morocco

"Studying abroad on Semester at Sea allowed me to acquire a perspective on the economies, challenges and conflicts affecting developed and emerging nations. I had the opportunity to learn how many of these economies look at sustainability and harness energy with their natural resources. When I returned to Bucknell, my experience brought an international perspective to my continued studies in real estate and sustainable urban development, as well as to my conversations with my professors and fellow students."

Camel Trek
Title: Camel Trek. “Morocco was one of my favorite ports, and this picture is one of my favorites from the entire voyage. It was taken in the middle of the Sahara Desert while I was on a camel trek excursion. We rode camels into the desert wearing traditional Moroccan headscarves that protected our faces from the sun and sand. We then spent the night under the stars in a Berber camp, allowing us to experience life as a local for 24 hours.”