Published: Jan. 16, 2009

Photo and essay contests showcase international interests

Contact(s): Stephanie Motschenbacher Advancement office: (517) 884-1129 cell: (517) 648-9945

Each November during International Education Week, the winners of internationally themed photography and essay contests are announced. Coordinated by various offices at International Studies and Programs, these contests give MSU students, faculty, staff and alumni the opportunity to share their international experiences and raise awareness throughout the MSU community. MSU celebrated this year’s International Education Week Nov. 17-21.

Photo Contests

The Global Focus photography competition, a contest that has provided a forum for Spartans to exhibit their international photography for a decade, announced winners on Nov. 18. Traditionally, photos are submitted from every continent and represent study abroad programs, vacations and Spartans living abroad in nearly every country in the world. The contest is separated into three categories: student, faculty/staff and alumni.

First place went to anthropology major Ryan Klataske for his picture of a barbershop in Namibia titled, “A Namibian Haircut,” technology instructor Sean Leahy for his picture of a family in India titled, “Farm Life in India” and engineering alum Donald Roberts for his picture of a traditional dancer in Bhutan titled, “Black Hat Dancer No. 1.”

These pictures, along with the second and third places from each category, will be featured in a number of publications and Web sites by contest co-sponsors International Studies and Programs and the MSU Alumni Association to promote international awareness. To see this year’s Global Focus winner’s gallery, see the display in the lobby of MSU’s International Center or visit

At the close of International Education Week, ISP’s Office of Study Abroad – which promotes international awareness every day by organizing programs around the world – announced winners of the Spartans Abroad photography contest. The contest is a chance to showcase the diversity of people and places that MSU students see in their study abroad programs.

The office received more than 350 entries. This year’s grand prize winner was zoology junior Erin Flemming, for her picture titled, “Masai Warriors,” taken on a study abroad trip to Kenya.
Also part of the contest, judges chose winners from each of the two categories: people and places. This year, first place went to graduate student Emily Fox for her picture of Malian people titled, “Trekking with the Locals,” and senior Patricia Thompson for her picture of a windblown shed in Norway titled, “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

These pictures serve as an indicator of what to expect on a study abroad trip and give study abroad students a way to relate to each other.

The Spartans Abroad contest gallery can be found at

Essay Contests

Two offices at International Studies and Programs – the Office of Study Abroad and the Office for International Students and Scholars – held annual essay contests. Both contests serve as effective ways for students to discuss their international experiences – either after returning from a study abroad trip or during their first semester as an international student at MSU.

First places in this year’s contests went to Marina Cuzovic for her essay about the difference between her home in Serbia and life in the U.S. titled, “The Spirit of America: My Personal Discovery,” and Megan Whaley for her essay about her study abroad experience titled, “Maulidun Nabiya.”

The winners of these contests are awarded $1,000, $500 and $250 for first, second and third (respectively) place. A list of all winners can be found at and

For more information about international contests at MSU or other ways to get involved, please see the International Studies and Programs Web site at