Study abroad experiences on display

Shannon Jordan | Staff Writer |

Eliza Byrne, ’24 accepts the award for first place in the Nature category. Byrne also earned a Judges’ Artistic Appreciation Award, and won the Kroger-Krikstone Best of Show Award. PHOTO BY JAIDA LUCK

As you walk up the stairs and into the second floor of the library, the Dailey Room is transformed into an photography gallery opening with staff, students, and faculty snacking on a arrangement of finger sandwiches, charcuterie, and fruits while viewing the framed photographs on display.

     This is the 23rd Annual Global Eyes Photography Contest Award Ceremony. Students are encouraged to enter this contest with the photos they have taken while studying abroad. Professor Kimberly Sultze co-founded the Global Eyes Photography Contest with Professor Jon Hyde and former Director of Study Abroad Kelly Cullens as a way to celebrate and share the unique experiences of students while they studied abroad.

     The different submission categories allow students to find one that resonates with the photos they took. The photo categories included: Landscape, Culture Most Distinct from SMC, City Life, Best Written Caption, the Essence of Study Abroad, Judges’ Artistic Appreciation, People and the Human Spirit, Nature, and the People’s Choice Award. In a tribute to two former judges, there is the Kroger-Krikstone Best of Show Award, which encompasses the overall best photo as a whole. This year, the most entered category was landscape.

     The photos are assessed by a group of judges which include Allison Cleary, Jordan Douglas, Jon Hyde, Jerald Swope, Kimberly Sultze, Sebastiaan Gorissen, and Candas Pinar. The photos receive either first, second, or third place and sometimes have an honorable mention photo. At the ceremony, the winner of each category talked about their piece and their study abroad experience.

     The People’s Choice award is where students, staff, faculty, and campus visitors can vote for their favorite photo. In 2023, St. Michael’s had 117 students who went abroad, 38 of whom entered the contest. Whether you go abroad for a two week segment or a whole semester, all students who went abroad are welcome to enter the contest. Each student is allowed three entries per study abroad program they participated in.

Byrne ’24 won the Nature category and the Kroger-Kristone Best of Show Award for her photograph, Unification of Sister: Ursa and Aurora. PHOTO COURTESY ELIZA BYRNE

     The contest has evolved over the years. Categories change to yield the best photo results, and eventually, the “best caption” category was added because “reading those snippets change the way you look at a photograph or how you perceive it,” Sultze said. “The contest provides students with a forum to share their photos and experiences.”

     The photo categories were created by considering photos that students might take while they’re abroad. Whether that would be a landscape or city life shot and then developed category descriptions based on that.

Amy Hylen, ’25 studied abroad in Bath, England and she submitted two photos from there and an additional photo from London. “I was inspired to participate in the study abroad photography contest because I wanted to share the beauty I gleaned from my travels to bring joy to others, in the same way I was beaming with joy during my time abroad from the wonders I saw and experienced,” Hylen said. Hylen took first place for her photo of London in the City Life category.

     Jordan Douglas, instructor of fine arts: arts and design at St. Michael’s has been involved in the contest for roughly 11 years as a judge. “I tend to evaluate how strong the photographs are for the categories they are entered in. As an art professor, I teach photography, so I am always looking at composition, technical quality, what x factor there might be,” Douglas said.

     This year, “we had very few entries in the human spirit. Maybe people aren’t getting as close to other people after the pandemic, but it used to be the big category,” Douglas said.

      Emma Posada, ’25 attended the event to immerse herself into the study abroad experience through her classmates’ photography. “I never got to study abroad, so seeing everyone’s experiences is really cool because I can then experience it in my own way,” Posada said. Posada’s favorite submission category was the Culture Most Distinct from SMC because she thought seeing other cultures allowed her to appreciate them more.

     Peggy Imai, director of Study Abroad, stepped into her role organizing the contest from her predecessor. She encourages students to take photos and enter the contest, but to her, it’s more important that students engage with the local community whether that be with a camera or not.

     The photography contest is “an attempt to bring the college community together, whether that be students, faculty, staff and bringing in people who might not be on this campus,” Imai said.

     The contest also produces a calendar with the submitted photos which can be purchased in the bookstore.