Amanda Wright, Amherst’s education abroad coordinator, has a favorite among the 234 entries for the College’s 2016 international photo contest, but it’s not the most stunning. It’s not even among the 21 finalists, which went up on display in Frost Library last semester for a week of public voting.
Rather, her favorite shows a man standing in the middle of a stone circle. Taylor Hallowell ’17, who submitted the photo, wrote in the caption that it portrays her host grandfather, who built the arch.
“He proudly stood in front of it and asked, ‘Do you have something to take a picture? I want people to see,’” Hallowell wrote. “He
built the arch in just a few weeks with the help of my other host family members. They live in a tiny town in the mountains of
Costa Rica with limited resources, so very few people have been able to see this work of art.”
For Wright, the photo and caption sum up the power of the international photo contest, now in its second year. Stories such as that one make foreign places relatable, she says.
The contest provides publicity for the study abroad program, and for the student photographers who see their work on display; it also provides a small, illuminating window into the people, places and things that Amherst students encounter while abroad. The captions, too, are stories in miniature.
The 2016 contest was open to Amherst students who took part in any international experience, whether during the summer or through a formal study abroad program. Some submissions are photos of the United States taken by international Amherst students.
More than 40 percent of Amherst students study abroad during their college years. Last semester, letters of intent from students who want to study abroad surged to 160 from a previous average of 100, Wright says.