"What is Culture?" Photo Contest 

This annual contest promotes cross-cultural awareness and international study.  The photos are on display in Memorial Library lobby until the end of fall semester.

Congratulations to the top three finalists of the 2014 “What is Culture?” contest, 1st place Olivia Paige, 2nd place Elvis Diaz and 3rd place Graham Garrett! Their photos were displayed in the library during the fall semester.

Contest Winner 

1st place - "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.

Contest Winner 2nd

2nd Place - “The Craftsman and the Ponte Vecchio” by Elvis Diaz, studied in Italy

This artist crafts all sorts of earrings, necklaces and bracelets from metal wires. He works all day and everyday next to the famous Ponte Vecchio (old bridge pictured in the background). The Ponte Vecchio is an iconic location of Florence, Italy with nothing but high-end diamond jewelry shops all across the bridge. This picture snapshots the focus of the man’s ironic jewelry making work. As many tourists spend hundreds to thousands of euros in the expensive diamond shops, the craftsman still manages to compete against theses shops. He’s dedicated to becoming a street vendor making a living off of his work. Florence receives millions of visitors a year, absorbing its rich history, cuisine, architecture and artwork. In doing so, Florence has become infested with tourists which has now become part of Florence’s culture. Many Florentines, as this man, dedicate their life work in meeting the needs of these tourists. There’s a symbiotic relationship amongst some of the locals and the tourists. Together, they make up what Florence is today. This man stands before us a craftsman. Who knows what this man would end up to be if tourism wasn’t popular in Florence. 

Contest 3rd Place

3rd place -“Humble Work” by Graham Garrett, studied New Zealand

Paul, a sheep farmer, wool merchant, husband, and father of 3, shears the first sheep of the evening, with hundreds more to follow.  On the farm nestled deep in the hill country of Palmerston, in the south island of New Zealand, Paul's young son Luke looks on as his father makes swift work of this wooly subject.  Paul and his family work hard to make a living, maintaining livestock and producing wool for firms near and far, including Smartwool™ of America.  Sheep are an enormous part of New Zealand's economy and culture- evidenced simply by many a distant landscape with white dotted hills.  This island country even holds the record for greatest number of sheep per-capita in the world!  This is but one glimpse into the hard-working life of a Kiwi (term for New Zealander) farmer, but we can see here a beautiful converging of New Zealand's culture of wool production, rustic and pastoral work, and family life.

See the rest of the submissions on Google + or Facebook.