Anyone can take a picture. Anyone can slide a set of vacation snapshots into a dusty old photo album and tuck it away for safekeeping. However, when it comes to capturing the essence of a certain place, framing the perfect scene and displaying a distinct message through the lens of a camera, these images are deserving of a bit more than snapshot status. Follow the experiences of study abroad participants and interns as The Big Green zooms in and gives you a closer look at a number of global issues brought to the surface through each geographic image. With the blink of an eye and the click of a shutter button, let this Study Abroad photo essay open your eyes to a photographic journey of the world.
Sociology senior Sarah Lang studied abroad through the Combined Arts and Humanities and Social Science in the United Kingdom program last spring. Lang took this picture during an early morning tour of the Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland. “The view from the castle was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen,” Lang said. “I thought being able to depict in a photograph exactly what I was seeing from the castle would be the closest to the true scenery one would ever be able to see without actually being right there.”
Breath of Scottish Air
Studying abroad through the Photo Communication in Europe and the Czech Republic last summer, journalism sophomore Kristen Creager also had the opportunity to experience Scotland, especially its culture. Taking this portrait of a Scottish bagpiper in Edinburgh, Creager said including the bagpiper with a view of the city in the background allowed her to capture the essence of the city.
Taking a break from the hustle and bustle of Edinburgh city life, the Photo Communication program also offered Creager the chance to escape to the Isle of Arran. In an attempt to convey the serenity of nature, Creager left the Scottish island with this peaceful image of a deer silhouetted by the sun setting. Reflecting on her study abroad and photography experience, Creager said, “I learned that there are no bad photographs, just different interpretations. I completely recommend [the program] to anyone, whether you can take a picture or not.”
Santorini, a Greek town known for picturesque scenery, provided sociology junior Erin Heyboer with more than enough reason to capture the magnificent view through the viewfinder of her camera. Studying abroad through the Social Science in the Eastern Mediterranean program in Greece, Heyboer described the town as “surreal” and said being there was almost like living in a Dr. Suess book. “As cliché as it sounds, it was heaven on earth,” she said. “The blue and white buildings overlooking the clear, deep blue sea was almost too much to be true.”
Especially during nightfall, Heyboer said the Greek islands were breathtaking. On her way back from dinner, Heyboer took this picture of the sunset on Mykonos, a party island known for tourism. “A sunset and sunrise are the perfect way to represent Greece,” Heyboer said. “This picture reminds me of the serenity of Greece. A sunset is a slow, gradual progession that cannot be rushed. You never see people worrying about time or being five minutes late for dinner.”
A Shot in the Dark
Marketing senior Lauren Johnson studied abroad in London for six weeks last summer. Johnson was able to portray the beauty of a Paris sunset with this image during an evening visit to the Eiffel Tower.
During the middle of his internship in Dublin last summer, communications junior Lucas Fowler took a trip to London and came across a protest display that occupied an entire block near the Parliament. The display included this poster of a stick figure holding a gas pump to its head. “I snapped a quick photo and walked on,” he said, “content with the fact that the most rewarding thing I had seen was a temporary display that would stand as long as there was discontent. Far above Big Ben, Westminster, the Abbey, the Thames, the Globe Theatre or even the Tate Gallery, that was the most memorable sight in London.”
Take a Stand
Lang also had the chance to witness part of the “Make Poverty History” campaign efforts during an event in Trafalgar Square last spring. “There were thousands of people there, all with the same goal: to make poverty history in Africa,” Lang said. “Being able to see such an influential man speak is something not many people will ever be able to experience.” While Lang said seeing Nelson Mandela speak was one of the biggest highlights of her trip, she used this image of the audience and banner to show others around the world the importance of ending poverty.
As part of their Vertigo World tour, Irish rock band U2 put on a show for millions of people at the Olympic Stadium in Rome last summer. The word “Coexist” lit up the stage as lead singer Bono blinded his own eyes with a bandana that bared the expression. Combining symbols from Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions, the message was sent as an attempt to bring people of all races, ethnicities and beliefs together in peace.
Around the Bend
During a summer in Rome study abroad program through John Cabot University, English senior Peter Gallina got his feet wet in Venetian culture during a weekend trip to Venice. As the early afternoon sunlight poked it’s way through a maze of buildings, Gallina caught a gondolier maneuvering tourists through narrow, winding canals at just the right second. “There’s something for everyone in this picture,” Gallina said. “[It] captures the honest truth of Venice. The paddle in the middle of the sunlight, the gondolier expertly kicking off the wall-it’s just so easy for these guys to be perfectly photogenic.”
Every Sunday morning in Rome, thousands of people gather near the Vatican to witness Pope Benedict XVI appear at a window and address the crowd. In this image, the hands of a person in the crowd are framing the pope as he preaches from his window. As mentioned by Creager, photos can be interpreted in many different ways, and this photo is no exception.
Interning in Australia for New South Wales Senator Marise Payne, political theory junior Michael Foley took advantage of the beautiful scenery the country’s capital has to offer. Shooting from a second floor balcony of the Australian National Parliament House, Foley was able to perfectly frame the Australian War Memorial seen in the background. “The photo is interesting because you can see the beauty of Australia’s capital of Canberra mixed with the Australian architecture,” Foley said. “You can tell that the capital was planned out before it was built, like Washington D.C., which might inspire other comparisons between the two countries.”
Twist of Tradition
Law student Jeremy Pickens who studied abroad in Mexico through the College of Law and Universidad Panamerica said he took away an appreciation of the Mexican culture and history during and after his experience. “Studying another legal system was eye-opening, but being immersed in another culture was inspiring,” Pickens said. Following a tour of the world famous distilleries in the town of Tequila, Pickens took this photo of Mexican women performing traditional dances to live mariachi music.
Pickens also met these two boys in a plaza in Guadalajara. He said the boys were showing off their pride for their local football team, the Chivas. “The boys were super excited to have their photo taken, and really enjoyed seeing it instantly on the [Liquid Crystal Display] screen,” Pickens said. “I think they really captured the spirit of Mexico. Even without material wealth, they seemed to be quick to smile, happy to talk and willing to share.”
Bond of Wisdom
From December of 2004 to June 2005, International relations senior Don Amboyer also met his share of people from different cultures. Taking part in an internship approved by the Office of Study Abroad and the Madison Field Experience Office at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis (INEGMA) based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Amboyer assisted in researching political, military and economic developments in the Middle East, wrote several articles and assisted with the production of documentary programs for satellite news station broadcast. Coming across these two men during a visit to the market in Shabam, a village about an hour from the area where he was studying Arabic, Amboyer said, “I think they were particularly interesting because of their position as respected elders of the community. Yemen has a large youth population and these men typify the knowledge and wisdom that the country relies upon.”
A Bedouin Journey
Traveling a great deal throughout the Middle East, Amboyer also made his way to the ancient city of Petra where he made friends with a number of people from the Bdul tribe that settled in Wadi Mousa. He said he took this picture one morning before the young boy left on his donkey to meet the day’s new tourists. “There is a general perception that the entire region is anti-American and it is unsafe for Westerners to travel there,” Amboyer said. “I was never ill-treated during my travels. People who were complete strangers offered to help and guide me through their worlds and asked nothing in return.”
Also venturing to Sudan with a friend who was visiting family, Amboyer stopped at an elementary school along the Nile as the children began recess. After noticing one boy who was looking at him and crying, Amboyer said, “He was telling his teacher through the tears that I scared him with my white skin. He hadn’t ever seen a white person before, and he was very afraid. It took a few minutes, but he settled down and we became quick friends.” After his internship experience, Amboyer said he hopes opportunities will increase for student-to-student contact between the region and the United States.
Journalism senior and The Big Green editor-in-chief Sarah Hunko studied abroad through the Race Relations in South Africa program last summer in order to venture outside of the West and study race. She visited the township of Gugulethu, located outside of Cape Town, South Africa during her study abroad program. Spending time at a shebeen, which is basically a bar, drinking, dancing and talking just before sunset, Hunko observed a woman taking time out to breastfeed her child. The mother found no shame in chatting with other women in the shebeen and caring for her baby at the same time, regardless of her surroundings.
Hunko also had the opportunity to interact with these children reaching through the fence of a day care center located in an informal settlement area that was without running water in Soweto, an infamous township outside of Johannesburg. “The photo of the children (and the white hand) symbolizes the stark difference between the local children and us as visiting Americans,” she said. “Personally, I had to deal with my own undeserved privileges, and I’m still coping with the fact that I can’t change the lives of nearly enough people.”
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Also taken in Gugulethu, Hunko witnessed a rainbow that stretched over and beyond the entire impoverished area. While the experience stimulated a range of concern and ambition within Hunko, she said, “Americans have so much to learn from Africa. They have so little compared to us but appreciate life and each other and their history in very profound ways.” With the collage of concealed international experiences brought to light with every captured image and snapshot, study abroad participants and travelers alike have and will continue spreading inspiring hues of hope all over the world.