Learning through the camera lens: International Eye photo contest captures student perspectives abroad

Student winners of the 9th annual International Eye Photo Contest discuss their prize photographs, taken while learning, serving or working abroad.

Year in and year out, international programs benefit Princeton students in the ways one would expect: learning from new professors, immersion into another culture, service across the globe, and direct interactions and relationship-building with individuals abroad. However, it's also important for students to take a moment to capture a memory from their international experience.

Each February, the International Eye Photo Contest provides an opportunity for students to share their memories and experiences. The contest is sponsored by the Office of International Programs in collaboration with the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies; the Program in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies; and the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.

The contest is open to all undergraduates who participated in an international experience (study, work, service or research) in the past year and allows them to submit photos in the categories of Abstraction, Architecture/Cityscape, Landscape/Nature, People, Tigers Abroad, A Window on Eurasia and PIIRS Global Seminar. Though a judging process, top photographs are chosen for Best in Show, Best in Category and Honorable Mention awards and are then showcased in an on-campus gallery event.

The photos provide a snapshot of what students were experiencing at that moment in time and lend a contemporary perspective on a culture outside of the United States. While his photo captured the British tradition surrounding Guy Fawkes Day, Best in Show winner Yash Huilgol, of the Class of 2018, also appreciated the opportunity to experience current events and political debates during his fall 2016 semester studying in Oxford, England.

"We got a chance to learn about all the modern implications of everything that's going on now in the modern day," such as the effects of the Brexit vote, Huilgol said. "Getting a chance to apply that, getting a chance to talk to people who are locals who are facing these huge ideological battles, was great to experience in person."

The gallery is on display through the end of the spring semester in front of the Office of International Programs on the A Floor of the Simpson International Building, and an online gallery of photos also is available.