Photo Contest Celebrates 'Emotional Power' of Study Abroad
May 4, 2017
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Illinois Wesleyan University's semiannual study abroad photo contest celebrates students and the art form they used to capture the "emotional
power" of study abroad.
"Each photo contest is a wonderful opportunity to see the wider world through the
eyes of our students — to share in the fun, touristy stuff, to hunger for the tasty
new foods they are trying, and to enjoy the magic of seeing some place so different
and meeting new people," said Stacey Shimizu, director of the International Office.
Just as important, however, are the descriptions of the location and the student's
reflections that accompany each photo. "In these short narratives, students tell us
about the emotional power of study abroad," Shimizu said.
Study abroad is a period of enormous personal growth, she said. "Students challenge
themselves in new ways, discover unknown competencies and stretch their imaginations,"
said Shimizu. "They come back with a new sense of who they are, what they value, and
what they are able to do."
Contest winners included: Sean O'Carroll '18 (Arlington Heights, Ill.), an international
business major who was selected as the "Judges' Choice" winner for his photo of a
young boy leading a camel trek in the Sahara Desert, and Zoe Bouras '18 (Aurora, Ill.),
an international studies and political science double major, whose photo taken in
Snowdonia National Park in Wales won both the "People's Choice" and "Road Less Traveled"
categories. O'Carroll's photo of the John Lennon Wall in Prague, Czech Republic, won
the "Urban Art" category; Bouras won the "Sense of Place" category for her photo of
Mandilara Street in Rhodes Town, Greece; and Katherine Henebry '19 (Springfield, Ill.),
an environmental studies and international business double major, won the "Humans
of the World" category for her panoramic view of Paris from behind the face of the
Musée d'Orsay's iconic clock.
Bouras is currently studying in England as part of Oxford University's Pembroke College Visiting Student Programme. Bouras noted that as an immigrant to the United States, she has been lucky to spend
a considerable amount of time abroad. "Being abroad has definitely changed who I am,"
said Bouras, who also spent two months in Seoul, South Korea, last summer as an IWU
Freeman Asia intern. "You go to a place where you understand very little and have
to work things out, from small cultural differences like siesta and table manners, to structural issues like race relations. The discussions politicians
have about international relations, refugees, immigrants, and development really mean
something to you. Living abroad, whether it's the first time out the country or the
10th, offers a huge scope of opportunities to change the way you see the world and
the way you see yourself."
Shimizu noted research shows that students who study abroad perform better academically
than their peers in the semesters after they return, graduate on time and at higher
rates, find employment sooner and on average have higher starting salaries. Study
abroad is an educational investment that pays off, she said. Illinois Wesleyan offers
more than 300 programs in over 70 countries spanning six continents. Traditionally
about half of Illinois Wesleyan students participate in an international education