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From Argentina to Zanzibar, Winning Photos Capture Students’ Off-Campus Study Experiences

Published: December 13, 2011

Featured in ACM Notes
Rocking back as he dances, an exuberant Tanzanian guitarist sends his song skyward.

Lining the narrow street, residents of a small town in Peru peer intently around a building's edge, hoping to catch a glimpse of … what?

The A Chord by Ian Heyse

Detail from "The A Chord" by Ian Heyse, Colorado College

Bright and juicy, a pair of pomegranates lay split open, ready to be consumed.

Pain and a steely resolve etched in their faces, Argentine women march side-by-side, determined to finally learn the truth about their missing loved ones.

Architectural details hint at a noble past for building long since overwhelmed by crumbling plaster, litter, and neglect.

These images, captured by the cameras of ACM students, were among the prize-winners in the fourth annual ACM Off-Campus Study Photo Contest.

The contest, begun by ACM during the consortium's 50th anniversary year, celebrates the ACM colleges' shared emphasis on off-campus study as a key part of liberal arts education, and serves as a reminder of the colleges' history of collaboration in providing programs around the world for their students.

See the 2011-12 Gallery of Photos of prize-winning & honorable mention photos.
All photos entered in the contest are displayed on the ACM Facebook page.

The judges awarded the Grand Prize to Carleton College senior Jake Reznick for his photo entitled "Day's End." While studying in China, Reznick took this graceful picture of a fan maker in his sun-dappled workshop, poised between his workbench and the gentle arcs of his day's output, arrayed in rows on the floor.

Photos also were selected to receive 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place awards in each of three categories – People, Stories, and Artistry – and Honorable Mention recognition was given to 14 photos. A total of 131 photos from all 14 ACM colleges were entered in this year's Photo Contest, and all of them can be viewed on the ACM Facebook page.

In the view of the judges, "Day's End" was the entry that most elegantly captured all three of the contest's categories. "This photograph grabbed me immediately," said Josh Moore, Associate Director of the Office of International Education at Beloit College, who served as one of the judges. "The stunning use of light and shadow, the symmetry of the fans on the floor, and the bright red color of the man's shirt against the gray background drew me into the story."

Day's End by Jake Reznick
 

"Day's End" by Jake Reznick, Carleton College

"The elements in the photograph give a sense of place – the fans, the Chinese text on the man's shirt – while the actual setting and the story take the viewer much deeper into the production of these icons of the culture," Moore continued. "The viewer has a sense of a day in this man's life, given the product at his feet at 'day's end,' as the photo is titled."

Ian Heyse from Colorado College won the top award in the People category for his photo of a sublime moment he shared with his friend Leboi, a traditional Maasai healer he met while participating in the ACM Tanzania Program.

"During my time there, we became close friends and learned a great deal from each other," Heyse wrote. "He told me stories about hunting lions and the plants he gives to cattle when they are sick. One day, I taught him the A chord. He played the same chord for over an hour, singing in Maa and dancing until he had to sit and rest."

For the second year in a row, Carleton College senior Elena Levi received 1st Place in the Stories category, again for a photo capturing a vignette that she happened upon during her studies in Latin America. Levi described this year’s winner, entitled "Car Race":

Car Race by Elena Levi

"Car Race" by Elena Levi, Carleton College

"Driving from Colca Valley to Arequipa, Peru, we stopped for lunch in a little town and stumbled upon a car race. Everyone in the town was outside, watching, waiting for cars to zoom by the tiny, adobe streets. We all leaned over and looked to the left, to where the cars were coming from, in anticipation. This was an exciting event for the community, and it was evident by the response of the crowd, full of cheers and smiles."

Her prize-winning photo last year, "Mayan Ceremony in Chichicastenango Cemetery," depicted a pair of Guatemalan shamans, enveloped in clouds of incense smoke as they performed a ceremony to celebrate the life of a local saint.

In the Artistry category, 1st Place was awarded to Mathew Brutger from St. Olaf College for his haunting – and revealing – photo of an apartment building in Zanzibar, taken when he was on the ACM Tanzania Program.

Apartment Lobby, Zanzibar by Mathew Brutger

"Apartment Lobby, Zanzibar" by Mathew Brutger, St. Olaf College

"Zanzibar is a common destination for tourists who visit Tanzania," Brutger noted. "Full of beaches and Arabic-influenced architecture, it may seem to be an island of wealth. But a closer inspection, such as the view into this apartment lobby, will show you that Zanzibar is just as impoverished as the mainland."

More scenes from students' off-campus experiences were selected for Honorable Mention recognition – a statue of Jesus in Lithuania, a story of a night of being chased by devils in Guatemala, children in India and Denmark, and graffiti in Buenos Aires, painted on a pair of abandoned televisions, exhorting passersby to "Turn off the TV, live your life."

Students submitted photos to the off-campus study office on their ACM campus, which nominated up to ten photos for the contest. Entries must have been taken by a current student participating in an undergraduate off-campus study program, either domestic or international.

A panel of four judges selected the winning and honorable mention photos:

  • Josh Moore, Associate Director of the Office of International Education, Beloit College;
  • Scott Lewis, ACM Director of Publications;
  • Heather Herriges, ACM Program Associate; and
  • Monica Mueller, a junior at Colorado College and current participant in the ACM Chicago Program: Arts, Entrepreneurship, & Urban Studies.

The judges were looking for images that went beyond the typical tourist snapshot. Photos that demonstrated cross-cultural learning and active engagement with the local culture, as well as creativity and artistry in their visual composition, were favored.

The prize-winning and Honorable Mention photos will be displayed on ACM campuses in a traveling exhibit this winter and spring, as well as in Chicago at the ACM Student Symposium on Off-Campus Study on April 13-14.

Links:

  • 2011-12 ACM Photo Contest galleries:

Grand Prize and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place photos in People, Stories, and Artistry
Honorable Mention photos
All 131 photos entered in the contest

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