Morocco. Ireland. Denmark. What do all these countries have in common? These are just some of the many places Seattle University students have traveled abroad this past year.
Beginning on May 1, for the sixth year in a row, Seattle U will host its annual “Imagining the World” contest, a photography competition where international students and study abroad students submit photos they’ve taken while abroad, with the intention of highlighting the university’s participation in the global community.
“I think the idea behind it is to sort of get a perspective on what it’s really like to live in that country, and not just a tourist perspective,” said junior Erica Snyder-Drummond, who took first place in this year’s competition.
Snyder-Drummond’s winning photo, taken in the summer of 2013, is titled “In the Mosque.” The photo captures the silhouette of a woman walking behind a blue stained glass window in a mosque, something that Snyder-Drummond explains was actually premeditated.
“We walked in there and I knew I wanted to get something using that window because it was really cool, and my friend was wearing this sheer, long black skirt, so I told her to walk across and I took the picture,” she explained.
The photo, taken in Morocco, was captured in the only mosque in the country where people are allowed to enter if they are not Muslim.
“It was something I sort of had in my head. It felt nice to know that it wasn’t just spontaneity that got me the prize; it was that I thought about it, it worked out, and other people liked it,” Snyder-Drummond said of the first place photo.
In addition, Snyder-Drummond received an honorable mention award for a photo she took in Ireland called “Untitled.” The photo, Snyder-Drummond explains, was an image she had to fight for. After showing several people the misty picture of two grazing horses, their response was moderately negative. Regardless, she went with her gut…and won an honorable mention.
“I talked to a bunch of people about it, but, at the end of the day, I tried to pick the ones I felt strongly about,” Snyder-Drummond said.
This concept of strong sensibility and self-learning, Director of Marketing Laura Paskin says, is the foundation of what the program is all about.
“It’s not only to highlight these wonderful photographs, but also to highlight these life-altering experiences. You know, they’re different now. They’ve changed. They’ve changed because of their experiences,” she explained.
And that’s exactly what it did. The “Imagining the World” booklet showcases the first place, second place, third place, and honorable mention photographs of the study abroad and international students from last year, and many of them described their experiences as life altering.
In the booklet, next to each pictured photo is a small blurb written by the awarded student. Paskin says it’s used to emphasize the value of international study and interrelationships with other cultures, other people, commonalities and differences.
“Studying abroad changed the way I see the world. The experience not only opened up my eyes to new ways of life around the world, but it changed the way I live my life at home in the United States,” said Sofia Jaramillo of her honorable mention photo, “Ubiquitos,” taken in Teotihuacan, Mexico.
“Living with local people gave me a new perspective of how I should enjoy every moment in my life,” Felix Hidjat said in regard to his second place photo, “The Champion,” taken in Siena, Italy.
The personal statements written by the students are telling, admittedly—the students’ sentiments underline the value of the study abroad experience, and encourage other students to take advantage of the many opportunities Seattle U has to offer.
“For us, it’s all about the experience of the student, what they capture in their eye and sharing it. You might as well. We really appreciate the fact that students give us their perspective and tell us what it meant to them. It’s a change agent,” Paskin noted.
The opening reception and awards ceremony will be held on May 1, from 5 to 8 p.m. in Kinsey Gallery; the event is open to the public.