A Lens on the World

December 12, 2017

Some people claim that technology is causing the world to shrink. But Bucknell students who study abroad quickly discover that there are still diverse cultures to experience, surprising foods to taste, unfamiliar terrains to explore — and incredible, sometimes breathtaking, sights to be seen by those bold enough to cross new borders.

Fortunately, for those of us currently just dreaming of distant lands, the University's student adventurers almost always return with visual mementos of their travels. And each year during International Education Week — celebrated Nov. 13–17 in 2017 — Bucknell's Office of International Student Services invites viewers to choose the best of the best images captured by students traveling in countries outside of their own.

This year's International Photo Contest drew 57 entries, divided among five categories. The winners were:

  • Animals:A Quick Haircut — Scotland — Omar El-Etr '19, majoring in computer science
  • Culture:Diversity — Australia — Hang Ha '18, majoring in electrical engineering
  • People:The Chauffeur — United States — Navid Mirzajani '19, majoring in economics
  • Cityscapes:Autumn — Germany — Xuerui (Charlotte) Song '20, majoring in computer engineering
  • Nature:Views of the Himalayas — India — Sharon On '18, majoring in managing for sustainability

"The world really is your classroom," said On, who visited Tanzania, India and Italy as part of an honors program coordinated by Bucknell's Office of Global & Off-campus Education and SIT Study Abroad. "I now see how you're able to learn from every person you interact with, in every space that you're in."

On added, "I think the experience challenged me more than I've ever been challenged before, and I would tell other students not to be afraid to step outside their comfort zones. That's where the greatest learning happens."

For Song, whose home country is China, attending Bucknell is her study-abroad experience. "It really challenges me to handle things on my own, meet new people and experience a new culture," she said. "It's a very interesting process."

A Deeply Personal Experience
According to Anita Casper, global education adviser, about 48 percent of Bucknell students take part in off-campus educational experiences. She said studying abroad not only exposes students to other cultures, but also helps them become more alert to their own cultural identities and heritages.

"Studying abroad helps students become aware of themselves as global actors and citizens," Casper said. "It allows students to experience other cultures and understand people in ways they couldn't by reading about a place."

Jennifer Figueroa, director of International Student Services, said the photo contest has become "an integral piece" of Bucknell's celebration of International Education Week, which was started in 2000 by the U.S. departments of State and Education to promote the benefits of international education and exchange.

"The contest garners participants regardless of nationality," Figueroa said. "Through it, we are able to celebrate the impact of international education as a way to build peace and understanding. We see visually stunning photography, but we also see other cultures, places and traditions, and appreciate our shared humanity."

Take a closer look: View the slideshow above and read the students' stories behind the photos (click i to view captions). The images will also be on display in Bertrand Library throughout January.