Saint Michael’s students share study abroad transformations during Global Eyes

April 11, 2024
Cat Cutillo
Social Media and Community Content Specialist

Each year, Saint Michael’s students who study abroad get the opportunity to share their transformative experiences with the campus community through both words and their photographs.

The Global Eyes photography competition allows students to enter their photos and captions in six categories: city life, culture most distinct from Saint Michael’s College, landscape, nature, people and the human spirit, and the essence of study abroad. The judges also awarded artistic appreciation awards, best written captions, a people’s choice award, and a best in show award. On April 3, more than 50 people braved a winter storm to attend the annual awards ceremony and view the winning photos, which are hung in Durick Library’s Dailey Room.

Ben Mogensen accepting first place for The Essence of Study Abroad category

The gathering is one of Saint Michael’s annual events that celebrates global learning and global competency. The Center for Global Engagement sponsors the event along with the Office of Study Abroad and the Department of Digital Media and Communications.

“The judges usually live vicariously through the images and travels and captions that students submit,” said Professor Jon Hyde of the Department of Digital Media and Communications. “We started Global Eyes as a vehicle for students that were coming back to campus to share their experiences. Frequently, when you come back from travels, not everyone wants to hear your stories in the elongated form. Global Eyes allow people to share their experiences visually and with a caption that starts a dialogue.”

Hyde was one of this year’s judges from the Department of Digital Media and Communications along with professors Allison Cleary, Sebastiaan Gorissen, Kimberly Sultze, and Jerald Swope. Fine Arts Professor Jordan Douglas and Sociology Professor Candas Pinar were also judges.

“The dream for the Center for Global Engagement is that every student at Saint Michael’s would participate in some type of global experience. Study abroad is the foundational pillar of the Center,” Center Director and Political Science Professor Jeffrey Ayres said at the event. “Our goal is to help all of you to become more globally and inter-culturally competent for personal satisfaction, lifelong learning, and workplace alignment.”

“You all come back with such incredible stories,” added Study Abroad Director Peggy Imai said. Imai organizes the Global Eyes competition each year.

Swapnil Jhajharia ’24 won first place in the People and the Human Spirit category for his piece “City Night Life.” His photo was taken from the perspective of the beach in a coastal city in Vietnam. The photo depicts a fishing boat in the foreground and the city in the background, where the stereotypical nightlife is happening.

“I wanted to show the other aspect of that. People going out into the sea,” Jhajharia said. “These people go out every night and fish so they can sell that in that market and that’s how they support themselves. I wanted to highlight the other side that a lot of people overlook when we talk about nightlife. These people are trying to make their ends meat and working hard all day.”

Rachel Gavin accepting first place for the Nature category

Eliza Byrne ’24 won first place in the Nature category for her piece “Unification of Sister: Ursa and Aurora,” which depicts the Northern Lights in Iceland. Byrne photographed the Northern Lights alongside her host family who took her to see them.

“Something we can probably all relate to from our different [study abroad] locations is how small we find out we are. That was my big realization,” Byrne said at the event. “The Big Dipper here is something I’m always trying to find and point out in the sky…One of my host brothers had come with us to see the Northern Lights and he stayed in the car…It was this cool unification of something they see as normal and something I see as normal.”

Ben Mogensen ’24 won first place for The Essence of Study Abroad for his piece “Impermanence in Every Sense,” which captured his experience camping at 13,000 feet in Bhutan. His hiking group decided to wake up at 4:45 a.m. to climb another 1,000 feet and make it to the sky burial site for sunrise. Mogensen said his group made it to the top minutes before sunrise.

“A lot of my life has hovered around equilibrium. I’m always a little more on the crazy side or a little more on the relaxed side, but I rarely get those 10 seconds in between where you’re actually at equilibrium,” Mogensen said. “This was those 10 seconds for me. I was sitting behind everything thinking, ‘I’m on top of the world, but I’m the smallest one here.’”

See a webpage of all the photography submissions and winners

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