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2014 Photo Contest Winners
2014 Photo Contest
Theme: Cultural Insights

1st place: 
Photographer: Elise Gehrke
Program: Pau, France
Title of Photo: London Love
Description: This photo depicts two icons of British culture: the double-decker bus and Big Ben. While visiting London, seeing Big Ben and the area of the city surrounding it were the highlight of my trip. There is something incredibly majestic about this quintessential landmark and the awe experienced when seeing it for the first time. To see Big Ben is to catch a glimpse of the proud British culture.

photo contest 2014

2nd place:
Photographer: Emily Moothart
Program: Aberdeen, Scotland
Title: What's Rugby without a Fine Scottish Kilt
Description: Imagine meandering through St. Andrew's in search of finding one of the world's oldest golf courses only to find not only the course, but a lively game of rugby full of an audience of men clad in tartan kilts. That's exactly what I experienced on my weekend trip to St. Andrews. Where I lacked spotting UK royalty, I made up for it in pure Scottish tradition. Even if I didn't know what was going on in the game, it sure was great to hear all of their fans cheering loudly and pretend like I was one of them, too!

photo contest 2014-2

3rd place:
Photographer: Rebecca McCormick
Program: Thessaloniki, Greece
Title of Photo: A Word to Live By: “Χαλαρa”
Description: On the surface, Thessaloniki is a city bursting with bustling streets.  From lively markets filled with vendors calling and night clubs pounding will people dancing, Thessalonians live energetic lives up until sun rise. Underneath, the community shares a much different bond. This connection is their motto, an important, integrated pattern of their life: “Halara”. As I’ve frustratingly found with many Greek words, there is no direct translation for Halara. I could say this picture captures its nature, but a picture is worth a thousand words. And a thousand words is not enough. The catch on describing Halara only emphasizes the point that it’s not just a word: It’s a lifestyle. It’s taking time to enjoy your surroundings, relaxing. It’s spending three hours drinking a coffee because it’s more about the friends you’re sharing it with rather than the caffeine. Halara is living with less stress and more generosity: Enjoying the moment instead of keeping tabs. Understanding this authentic meaning is only found through engaging experiences, much like cultural insight. What this photo does show is one aspect of my experience with Halara. This is one of Halkidiki’s beach villages during the winter season. There is tranquility in its temporarily deserted state, and I’ve come to notice the same in Greece’s turmoil. It’s incredible how resilient Greeks are in keeping calm through adversity. For their culture, generosity and enjoyment of life is a priority- even during difficult periods. So for me, Halara is not just a word used in Greek culture but one to live by anywhere.

photo contest 2014-3

Honorable Mention:
Photographer: Samantha Johnson
Program: Winchester, England
Title of Photo: Sunlight and Stonehenge
Description: This photo was a matter of chance, for it was captured at the exact moment that the sun came out from behind the clouds. It was so bright and so beautiful, you could almost forget what the real subject of the photo is: Stonehenge, just outside of Salisbury, England. Upon first glance of this historic site, one cannot help but be a bit shocked-- disappointed, even; Stonehenge is really quite small. Fences prevent one from getting too close to the famous rocks, but upon walking around it and thinking, it is truly awe-inspiring. The great mystery of who put these stones here, how, and why is something that has haunted humanity for the length of the ages. Being in the presence of something so old and so vague is a humbling experience.  These thoughts and feelings dance through your mind, all the while being in the English environment, where the clouds are constantly threatening rain, and yet the sun still shines. Even though Stonehenge is small, it is no less important. It is one of many iconic sites that represents how, in many ways, England has been at the heart of the evolution of humanity.

photo contest 2014-4

Honorable Mention:
Photographer: Claire Lind
Program: Turkey
Title of Photo: Spice Up Your World
Description: You will not see the word organic on any food label in a Turkish market. You will not find the equivalent of the USDA. There is no need for approved organic products to be listed because everything is from the fruit of the Earth. In the Istanbul Spice Bazaar, spices and organic is all that they do. This covered bazaar that spans many miles encompasses the Istanbul culture as each shop owner rallies for your business as you pass by. Each vendor offering lower prices than his neighbor on every spice under the sun. These spices don't come in your McCormick easy-made shakers, they come in bulk, the only way to buy your spices. The best part? You can sample anything and everything your heart desires. A glass of çay will be had multiple times with many shopkeepers in this bazaar as you show your interest in their goods, or simply stop to say hello.

photo contest 2014-5

Facebook Fan Favorite: 
Photographer: Roxanne Thorelli
Program: Vaxjo, Sweden
Title of Photo: An Afternoon in a Small, Swedish Harbor Town
Description: This picture was taken when I was in Öregrund, Sweden, which is a city located on the Baltic Sea. My family members are from Sweden, and so I was staying at a summer cabin with them. We walked through the city on cobbled streets to see the harbor and the small houses. Sweden is known for its red houses in the country, like those shown in this picture. My family has a small boat at the harbor that we took for a ride and to use for fishing. We cooked the fish we caught when we got back to their summer home. Fishing is very popular in Sweden, so it was nice to experience catching dinner with my Swedish relatives. Many families come to Öregrund for the summer and spend their time exploring the sea and relishing in the nice weather. I enjoyed the time gardening on my family’s land and learning about my heritage. Sweden in known for the midnight sun, so I stayed up most of the nights to see it and to reflect on the day’s adventures. Spending time with my family at their summer cabin helped me relax and understand more about whom I am and what is important to me. I keep this memory close to my heart because I do not know when I will be back to Sweden to visit my family again. Pictures like this one guide my memory and allow me to relive my wonderful experiences abroad.

photo contest 2014-6