By Rebecca Wickstrom
Sixteen student photos and three student essays won awards Thursday as part of the Kennedy Center for International Studies” photo and essay contests.
The essay contest is new this year and commenced in conjunction with International Education Week and the 20th anniversary of the Kennedy Center.
Kent Freeze, a sophomore from Ottawa, Canada, majoring in economics and Chinese, won the essay competition and its $500 prize. His essay discussed the difficulties lesser-developed countries have paying their debts.
“I thought the $500 was great, and [the topic] seemed like something I”m interested in,” he said.
Of the 200 photo entries, three earned top prizes and 13 received honorable mentions.
Participants in International Study Programs snapped the photos while studying in Italy, Japan, Mozambique, Ghana, Guatemala, Namibia and Senegal.
More entries were submitted this year than the four previous years of the photo contest combined.
Breanne Bell, a junior majoring in special education, submitted the winning photograph, titled “Play Time,” which depicts a student playing with children in an orphanage in Iasi, Romania.
Bell won $100, which she plans to share with a friend, according to Lee Simons, communications coordinator for the Kennedy Center.
“[Bell] said the girl that she took [the picture] of is on a mission and she”s going to share the prize winnings with her,” Simons said.
The winning photographs now adorn the wall near the international studies office in the Herald R. Clark Building.
“These photos capture the variety of international experiences and celebrate the diversity on our planet,” reads the plaque near the pictures.
Simons explained the reason for the photo contest.
“We are an international center and we do lots of posters and fliers and have a Web site,” she said. “We needed international photos.”
The Kennedy Center researched the work of other college international centers and decided to have a photo contest.
“We ask for free use of the picture for non-profit things that we do,” Simons said. “We wouldn”t publish the photo in a book that would be making money.”
Simmons said the process allows the Kennedy Center to have a constant influx of pictures, not only the photos of the winners, but all of the submitted photos.
“Sometimes we can use parts of pictures,” she said. “We use them to promote events for that area. If we had a speaker coming from Africa, we have a photo archive to draw from. … People know that wherever they are going, they can take pictures that can be entered in this contest.”
Simons said she hopes the photos from the International Study programs will continue to inspire people and inform them about other parts of the world.
“The photos are displayed on the wall by the international office and they are labeled,” Simons said. “As students are looking around, they realize that ”this is someplace that I can go.””
Simons hopes that the contest will continue to grow.
“We would like to see alumni of the Kennedy Center who are out in foreign places or traveling to participate in the contest,” she said. “No one has done this to date. We would like to see faculty and directors who are on the programs submit photos.”
Simons also said there are parts of the world the Kennedy Center does not have any photos of.
“We get stunning pictures of Africa because the subject matter was made-to-order for photography,” she said. “There are other areas that are less well represented. We would encourage students who go to other places to take pictures.”