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Submissions opening for IU study abroad photo contest this week


A man walks with a filled basket on his shoulder in Bali, Indonesia. The photo won the culture category in the 2018 IU study abroad photo contest. Courtesy Photo: Riley Petty

There was a man in Indonesia without shoes, carrying a lot of weight on his shoulders, but still smiling, and then-junior Riley Petty snapped a picture. To her, that photo represented that you don’t have to speak the same language in order to communicate.

“It was a really joyful photo,” Petty said. 

Submissions for this year’s contest will open Friday.This contest is open to anyone who studied abroad this past year. Students who did should get an email about the contest Friday. The Office of Overseas Study organizes the contest annually.

“What we hope to gain is just to see what students are doing, see how they’re engaging with the local culture,” said Caleb Gardner, communications coordinator for the Office of Overseas Study. 

Petty entered a photo from her semester exchange in Singapore inlast year’s contest, and she was one of the winners. 

A student’s photo may be placed in one of three categories: students, culture or environment. However, the Office of Overseas Study decides which category to place photos in, so the students don’t have to worry about that. Petty’s photo was placed in the culture category. 

She said her photo made her realize instead of pitying others, she should try to learn their stories and not compare them to her own. For students heading into the contest, she suggested taking and choosing a photo that really speaks to the photographer, and not necessarily to someone else. 

Gardner finds an even broader purpose for the contest. 

“It’s really to get kids to be paying attention and to get them engaged with the culture,” Gardner said. 

The photos not only encourage people to be more engaged with the culture, but the Office of Overseas Study then has photos to use in posting on social media and its website. Contestants can submit up to seven photos each. Last year, there were about 500 photos submitted.

“It should be probably another pretty big year,” Gardner said. “We have more and more people studying abroad every year, so there’s more and more potential photos coming in.”

While Gardner does not know the exact date, he said this contest has been a part of IU for a long time. And now, with phones in the pockets of students, it’s easier for students to take more photos.

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