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Students' Photos Reflect Memorable Experiences from Off-Campus Study

Published: December 15, 2010

Encountering cultures and traditions, enjoying the rhythms of daily life, making chance discoveries, seeing dramatic events unfold, finding moments of reflection and insight – the many aspects of students' experiences during off-campus study are reflected in prize-winning and honorable mention photos from the third annual ACM Off-Campus Study Photo Contest.

Whirling Dervishes at Sunset

“Whirling Dervishes at Sunset”

Photo by Anna Carlson Schattauer, St. Olaf College

This year's Grand Prize was awarded to Anna Carlson Schattauer from St. Olaf College for her mesmerizing photo "Whirling Dervishes at Sunset," which captured the graceful movements of Sufi mystics in the gathering dusk. Setting the scene, Schattauer wrote:

 The night we saw the whirling dervishes was the first cold night on the program. As we all snuggled close to one another to keep warm, we watched the dervishes whirl to Sufi music with their whispered chants of, 'Allah. Allah.'

Schattauer took the picture in Turkey during the St. Olaf Term in the Middle East, a fall semester program in which students also study and travel in Morocco and Egypt. A senior, she is majoring in sociology/anthropology and women's studies, with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies.

Along with the Grand Prize, photos were awarded 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place prizes in each of three categories – People, Stories, and Artistry. Fourteen photos also received Honorable Mention recognition in the contest. All of these photos will be shown at ACM colleges in a traveling exhibit during winter and spring 2011. The exhibit also will be displayed at the ACM Student Symposium on Off-Campus Study in Chicago on April 15-16.

Fish Market

"Fish Market"

Photo by Kelsey Hyde, Grinnell College

The winning photos were selected from among 99 entries by students who studied in locations around the world. The three First Place photos, taken by students on programs in Africa, Central America, and Europe, illustrate that memorable experiences – and images – can occur at any moment during off-campus study.

A Senegalese boy who tagged along with a group of college students during a visit to his village is the subject of Kelsey Hyde's photo "Fish Market," which was awarded 1st Place in the People category. A Grinnell College senior majoring in psychology and English, Hyde described the scene:

Thousands upon thousands of fish are laid out in the sun to dry and then carried to a further end of the beach to be smoked. Along with fish production, the people of the area catch oysters for food and then use the leftover shells to create a type of concrete for constructing buildings. The child pictured followed our group on the tour of the market, and along with his fellow friends snuck small pieces of the smoked fish and oyster meat as snacks.

From the boy's expression, it appears that Hyde may have snapped the picture just as he was savoring one of the snacks.

Mayan Ceremony in Chichicastenango Cemetery

"Mayan Ceremony in Chichicastenango Cemetery"

Photo by Elena Levi, Carleton College

An unexpected encounter provided the opportunity for Elena Levi to take her photo of two shamans enshrouded by clouds of incense smoke, and to learn more about local traditions. "Mayan Ceremony in Chichicastenango Cemetery" received 1st Place for Stories for Levi, a junior majoring in art history at Carleton College who was participating in the Social and Cultural Research in Guatemala program when she took the photo. Levi wrote:

"Taking a stroll to the cemetery with some friends, we unexpectedly stumbled across two Mayan aqi ijab or shamans, doing a ceremony, saying prayers with copal, the incense creating the smoke in the photo, and firecrackers, which made loud sounds that could be heard throughout the town every 30 or 40 minutes. They were celebrating the life of one of their town's saints. There were processions that night as well as the next morning, ceremonies in the church, and other celebrations honoring the saint."

Max Silver's whimsical "Sunset in Moravia," selected for 1st Place in the Artistry category, seemingly depicts a horse in mid-flight over a small Czech town nestled in a valley. A senior at Carleton College double-majoring in economics and cinema & media studies, Silver snapped the photo during a three-day bus tour on his college's New Media Studies in Europe program.

Sunset in Moravia

"Sunset in Moravia"

Photo by Max Silver, Carleton College

Students at ACM colleges who have participated in off-campus study programs are eligible for the contest, and photos are submitted to ACM through the colleges' off-campus study offices. The contest and traveling exhibit were first held in 2008-09 as part of the ACM’s 50th Anniversary celebration to highlight the consortium's leading role in off-campus study. Winning photos from the 2008-09 and 2009-10 contests can be viewed on the Photo Contest webpage.

The panel of judges for the contest included Chicago Arts Program Adjunct Instructor and artist Martina Nehrling, ACM Director of Publications Scott Lewis, ACM Program Associate Heather Everst, and ACM Chicago Arts participant Kaitlyn Herzog, who is a studio art and education major at Lawrence University.

The judges looked for photos that went beyond the typical tourist snapshot to illustrate cross-cultural learning and the interdisciplinary nature of liberal arts education. The students wrote descriptions to provide context for their photos.

The other prizes awarded were:

  • 2nd Place, People – "A Conversation" by Rebecca Kilman, Carleton College
  • 2nd Place, Stories – "Incantation" by Sam Scherf, Carleton College
  • 2nd Place, Artistry – "Stained Glass" by Victoria Ezell, Knox College
  • 3rd Place, People – "A Day in Talatac" by Aria Walsh-Felz, Beloit College
  • 3rd Place, Stories – "Fuerza Cristina" by Tessa Cheek, Grinnell College
  • 3rd Place, Artistry – "Bracelets" by Jae Hyoung Lee, Knox College

Visit the 2010-11 Photo Contest galleries to see the prize-winning photos and the Honorable Mention photos.


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