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### Global Eyes: Saint Michael’s Students Reflect on Transformative Study Abroad Experiences

Each academic year, students from Saint Michael’s College who participate in international study programs have the chance to communicate their profound and transformative encounters with the campus community through both written narratives and their captured moments.

The Global Eyes photography contest enables students to submit their photographs and accompanying descriptions across six distinct categories: urban life, cultures divergent from Saint Michael’s College, scenic landscapes, natural settings, individuals and their resilience, and the quintessence of studying abroad. In addition to the category awards, the judging panel also recognizes outstanding artistic merit, excellently crafted captions, a people’s favorite selection, and the prestigious best in show accolade. The annual awards ceremony, held on April 3, drew over 50 attendees who braved a winter storm to witness the winning entries displayed in the Dailey Room of Durick Library.

Ben Mogensen receiving the first-place award for The Essence of Study Abroad category

This event stands as a hallmark in Saint Michael’s yearly calendar, commemorating the value of global education and cross-cultural competence. Spearheaded by the Center for Global Engagement in collaboration with the Office of Study Abroad and the Department of Digital Media and Communications, the competition serves as a platform for returning students to visually narrate their journeys, fostering dialogue through captivating imagery and succinct captions.

Professor Jon Hyde, hailing from the Department of Digital Media and Communications, remarked, “The judges often live vicariously through the submitted images, travels, and narratives of the students. We initiated Global Eyes as a medium for students returning to campus to relay their experiences. Frequently, after travels, not everyone is keen on hearing extensive stories. Global Eyes provides an avenue for individuals to share their adventures visually, sparking conversations.”

This year’s judging panel from the Department of Digital Media and Communications comprised professors Allison Cleary, Sebastiaan Gorissen, Kimberly Sultze, and Jerald Swope. Joining them were Fine Arts Professor Jordan Douglas and Sociology Professor Candas Pinar.

“The vision of the Center for Global Engagement is for every Saint Michael’s student to engage in some form of global experience. Study abroad stands as a foundational element of the Center,” articulated Center Director and Political Science Professor Jeffrey Ayres during the event. “Our objective is to enhance global and intercultural competencies among all of you for personal fulfillment, continuous learning, and professional alignment.”

“You all return with remarkable narratives,” added Study Abroad Director Peggy Imai, who orchestrates the Global Eyes competition annually.

Swapnil Jhajharia ’24 clinched the top spot in the People and the Human Spirit category for his entry “City Night Life.” Captured from a beach in a coastal Vietnamese city, the photo portrays a fishing boat in the foreground against the backdrop of the vibrant city nightlife.

“I aimed to shed light on the lesser-known aspect of nightlife. These individuals venture into the sea nightly to fish for sustenance and livelihood. I wanted to spotlight this overlooked facet of nightlife, showcasing their toil and dedication,” shared Jhajharia.

Rachel Gavin receiving the first-place award for the Nature category

Eliza Byrne ’24 secured the first position in the Nature category with her piece “Unification of Sister: Ursa and Aurora,” featuring the ethereal Northern Lights in Iceland. Accompanied by her host family, Byrne captured the awe-inspiring phenomenon.

“A common realization we often share from our varied study abroad experiences is the sense of our insignificance. That was my profound realization,” reflected Byrne. “Locating the Big Dipper in the sky is a constant quest for me…One of my host brothers joined us to witness the Northern Lights and opted to stay in the car…It symbolized the convergence of what they perceive as ordinary and what I perceive as extraordinary.”

Ben Mogensen ’24 emerged victorious in The Essence of Study Abroad category with his entry “Impermanence in Every Sense,” encapsulating his camping venture at a lofty altitude of 13,000 feet in Bhutan. His group embarked on a predawn climb to a sky burial site, reaching the pinnacle moments before sunrise.

“My life has often oscillated between extremes. I find myself teetering on the edge of chaos or tranquility, seldom experiencing equilibrium. This moment offered me that equilibrium. I sat there, contemplating, ‘I’m at the zenith, yet the most minuscule,’” shared Mogensen.