"What is Culture?" Photo Contest 

This annual contest promotes cross-cultural awareness and international study.

Contest Winner

"Portrait of a Nation's Future" by Olivia Paige, studied in India

This photo was taken during my semester abroad at The University of Hyderabad, in India.  While abroad, I was privileged to be a part of a rally for education rights led by Akshara, an NGO developed by University of Hyderabad students and dedicated to improving underfunded public primary schools.  This silent moment with a young girl in the crowd was captured just before the rally began.  My favorite aspect of this photo is the intensity and depth of the girl’s eyes.  While she remains silent, her eyes speak volumes.  In India, the inequality of girls’ education is a pressing issue.  While I was abroad I conducted research on the topic of girls education in Hyderabad and interviewed Andhra Pradesh Secretary of Education Dr. R.S. Praveen Kumar, an expert on the issue of girls’ education.  In his interview, Dr. Kumar stated,  “No society will ever reach its full potential, if half of its population remains left behind in the education system.”  It is important for the world to realize that girls are the future of societies.  And it is up to societies to decide what their future will be.  Will this girl become educated and a leader in her community?  Will she have an arranged marriage before she completes primary school?  Will she be able to provide for her family or end up begging on the street?  Her future is the future of her society.  What will her eyes reflect about her world?  What improvements for women will she see in her lifetime?  The choice is up to us.  This young girl is the portrait of her nation’s future.