Returning study-abroad students swapped worldly stories Feb. 4 at the study-abroad photo exhibit and Welcome Back Reception.
According to Jessica Sears ’11, it was a vital opportunity. “One of the most important things about the study-abroad experience is to share what you’ve seen and learned,” said Sears, who studied in Morocco last year. “I really enjoy seeing what other people have seen and done.”
Diversity and character
Sears did just that, thanks to the fifth-annual exhibit, which included study-abroad students’ photos of the world’s sweeping vistas and natural wonders, architectural details, street scenes, candid shots of friends, special events, artifacts and more. It also included pictures of the United States snapped by international students, such as Yixue Ge ’13’s photo of red chairs on Times Square. [Story continues below.]
All of the photos had been entered into the 2011 Global Education Photo Contest last fall and had been evaluated by global-ed staff members. Everyone who attended the exhibit had a chance to vote for their favorites among the top-scoring entries.
“Every year I’m astounded by the variety of subjects and styles we see,” said Marlena Meikrantz ’10, program associate of global education. “This exhibit really reflects the diversity and character of the Dickinson global-education program.”
Each image evoked strong memories in the student who captured it. A shot by Andrea Wiley ’11, for example, immortalizes the moment she first saw the Eiffel Tower up close. “It sounds clichéd, but I’ll never forget that moment,” said Wiley, who studied in Toulouse, France, and San Paolo, Brazil.
“It’s interesting to see what other people decide to capture about places you've been,” said Verena Mertz. An overseas student assistant from Germany, Mertz submitted a photo of Carlisle’s autumn leaves, as well as a shot of a Washington, D.C., rally led by pop-media phenoms Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. “This contest is a great way to acknowledge the experiences students have had,” she said.
Mahmood Al Hinai, a Fulbright foreign-language teaching assistant from Oman and amateur photographer, agreed. “Two people can take a picture of the very same place, and the pictures will be very different,” he noted. “It’s nice to be able to explore the world from right here on campus.”
Adjusting to a new life
After the exhibit, returning students, international scholars, faculty advisors and global-education staff attended a Welcome Back Reception, where the winning photos were announced. Benjamin Roberts ’11, and Yixue Ge ’13 each garnered one award; Daniel Kaplan ’11 captured awards in three categories and Ursala Neuwirth ‘11, the winner of Best Overall Photo, took home the grand prize: a much-coveted travel voucher.
Throughout the reception, students chatted about their travels. This kind of community-building is vital to students adjusting to life back in the United States, said Wiley.
“Study abroad is such a huge part of the Dickinson experience—you learn things you couldn’t learn in a classroom, and in very different ways,” she explained. “Reintegration is an important part of that experience.”
Sarah Brnich ’11, who studied in Argentina in fall, 2009 and co-presented to a Dickinson Spanish class the following spring, agrees. “You’re excited to talk about your experiences when you get back, but not everyone wants to look through all of your picture albums and hear all of your stories,” she said. “People who have had a similar experience understand.”
By MaryAlice Bitts Jackson
Reception photos by Carl Socolow '77