Pulitzer Center Update

DC Study Abroad Students Participate in Photography Contest

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All students who contributed to the DC Public Schools Study Abroad photography contest hosted by Pulitzer Center received prints of their photos at a reception held October 3, 2016. Image by Fareed Mostoufi. United States, 2016.

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Students from DC Public Schools who studied abroad in summer 2016 were invited to submit a photo and caption to a photography contest hosted by Pulitzer Center. Students were asked to contribute photos that captured significant moments and/or observations from their travels. On October 3, 2016, contest contributors and their families were invited to the Pulitzer Center office for a reception and presentation from photojournalist Tomas van Houtryve. Image by Fareed Mostoufi. United States, 2016.

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Photojournalist Tomas van Houtryve describes his career as a photojournalist to students who contributed photos to the DC Public Schools Study Abroad Photography Contest, which was hosted by the Pulitzer Center. Students were joined by their teachers and families. Image by Jin Ding. United States, 2016.

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"Volunteers for Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network site in Limon, Costa Rica walk the beach 7.1km every night to search for nesting mother sea turtles in order to gather and protect the eggs before a poacher finds them. These volunteers help protect and preserve Costa Rica's amazing marine life." Image and text by Fatimah Fair. Costa Rica, 2016.

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"After a long day of service, DCPS students assemble to have their boots, covered in thick Amazonian mud, cleaned by fellow students. This embodies Minga Lodge’s themes of sharing, teamwork, and putting other’s needs before your own." Image and text by Torin O'Brien. Ecuador, 2016.

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"A child from Palmarin bikes across the local beach on a warm June evening. Exams are taking place as the school year is winding down, and while students like this one are not studying, they take to the beach to swim, play, socialize, and participate in Senegal's national sport: wrestling." Image and text by Teodoro Topa. Senegal, 2016.

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"This is a photo of all the students who went on the trip making clay. This clay was later shaped and molded as we created pottery. One of our creations was the faceless doll. These dolls are special to the Dominican Republic because they represent the Dominican people. There is not one face for a Dominican, and this I connected with American culture. Looking at the people on our trip, I saw diversity -not only in our appearance but through our minds as well." Image and text by Ife Calhoun. Dominican Republic, 2016.

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"This photo shows the combination of environmental, social, and cultural influences in the city of Baños, Ecuador. Residents relax in the hot springs socializing with their neighbors, surrounded by green mountains. Their homes spread out along the base of the range. Long basins used to wash clothes overlook public murals, common in Ecuador. The whole photo captures the feel of community." Image and text by Saige Gootman. Ecuador, 2016.

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"A host mother to me and a village mother to all, Bernadette resides in the small village of Palmarin, Senegal. She's taken so many of the village kids under her wing, it's almost impossible to tell which are her biological children. When her sister passed earlier this year, she vowed to sacrifice and love her kids as her own." Image and text by Olivia Trice. Senegal, 2016.

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"Not readily found at your local grocery store, Uvilla (oo-VEE-yah), a small yellow-orange fruit, which grows at high altitudes that is both sweet and tart, is used to make jellies. At Huerto Organico, one can discover the eruption of contrasting flavor and firm texture a welcoming surprise to the palate." Image and text by Kyriea Smith. Ecuador, 2016.

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"The Marolles Panoramic elevator is located in Brussels, the capital of Belgium. This elevator led to a breathtaking view of Brussels! Belgium is known for its beautiful culture and many landscapes. This photo shows a mélange of Belgium's widespread cultures, contemporary structures and various examples of expressive art." Image and text by Jennyfer Jimenez. Belgium, 2016.

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"In Brussels, Belgium, there is a large, abandoned building that was once home of the Brussels Stock Exchange, but is commonly known as the Bourse. It is the namesake for its location, the Place de la Bourse, which is the second most important plaza in Brussels. After the March terrorist attacks in Brussels, people came from all over Belgium to write messages of hope, love and perseverance all over the building, in order to show solidarity in the face of trying times and that the poison of terrorism would not break the country's spirit. But despite the fact that the Bourse is a Belgian monument, one can see that a makeshift vigil is being held in the front for victims of the June 29th attack in Istanbul, and the July 4th attack in Baghdad; in the front, attention is being called to "policy change for Orlando", as a result of the massacre in an Orlando gay club that is linked heavily to the lack of gun control laws." Image and text by Erica Dugue. Belgium, 2016.

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"Thousands of miles away from home, and over a thousand feet in the sky, we all share a solemn moment on Montserrat, taking in the awe-inspiring landscape of Barcelona." Image and text by Glenn Hall. Spain, 2016.

“As a journalist, I get curious about a topic and think there’s something there that needs to be known, needs to be shared,” photojournalist Tomas van Houtryve said to students, parents and staff from DC Public Schools on Monday, October 3, 2016. “My main job isn’t to present my opinion, but to find out the truth of what is going on.”

The students had gathered at the Pulitzer Center office with their teachers, families and van Houtryve for a reception celebrating their entries to a photography contest hosted by the Pulitzer Center in summer 2016. The contest, which was open to all students who participated in the school district’s summer study abroad program for 8th and 11th grade students, called for photos and captions that captured important moments students observed while immersed in their assigned countries. Contest winners were then invited to a reception with photojournalist van Houtryve, who has received three Pulitzer Center grants for reporting. His work has appeared in National Geographic, Foreign Policy, Blink and galleries throughout the world.

Van Houtryve smiled knowingly at the students as he described his reporting process, and they proudly smiled back. As part of the contest, students were also tasked with demonstrating the observation skills and curiosity that van Houtryve described.

Nearly 400 students traveled to 14 countries as part of the inaugural year for the district’s study abroad program. They studied language, culture and service learning while engaging with Spanish, French and Mandarin-speaking communities across Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe and South America. The Pulitzer Center developed a pre-departure lesson plan for students and the travel ambassadors leading their trips that introduced observation and photography skills practiced by professional journalists. Students learned about slow reporting and caption-writing from National Geographic Fellow Paul Salopek’s Out of Eden Walk. They explored photography techniques and curation skills with Peter DiCampo, co-founder of the Everyday Africa project. They investigated projects from Pulitzer Center grantees who had reported from the countries they would be visiting. They were then tasked with capturing images representing what struck them and/or surprised them as they engaged with a new place.

Twenty-five students submitted photos and captions to the DCPS Study Abroad Photography contest, and each submission demonstrated a focused intention to communicate an important moment through language and image.

School Without Walls senior Emma Morris captured a government building in Barcelona, Spain, draped in a banner reading, “Refugees welcome.”

School Without Walls senior Fatima Fair accompanied her black and white image of a person trekking along a beach in Costa Rica with a caption that demonstrated the observation and interview skills she had applied on her trip: “Volunteers for Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network site in Limon, Costa Rica walk the beach 7.1km every night to search for nesting mother sea turtles in order to gather and protect the eggs before a poacher finds them. These volunteers help protect and preserve Costa Rica's amazing marine life.”

Images submitted to the contest captured clay-making in the Dominican Republic, graffiti in Belgium reading “Policy Change for Orlando,” children biking along the beaches of Senegal in between their exams, wild horses in Ecuador, and much more. When asked at the October 3, 2016, reception about how they chose their photos, some students said that they selected images that reflected significant experiences and personal connections from their trips. Others endeavored to capture elements reflecting the culture of their study abroad destination. Duke Ellington High School senior Olivia Trice explained that she chose to submit a portrait of the woman that she lived with in Senegal in order to communicate the deep relationship they cultivated on the trip. “A host mother to me and a village mother to all, Bernadette resides in the small village of Palmarin, Senegal,” she wrote in the photo’s caption. “She's taken so many of the village kids under her wing, it's almost impossible to tell which are her biological children.”

As van Houtryve concluded his presentation for the October celebration at Pulitzer Center’s office, one parent asked, “To those that are attracted to what you’re doing, what could you share with them that would give them a start in this career?”

“Look at the stories close by in your community that need to be reported,” he said. “As far as photography goes, practice timing. Practice composition. And ultimately for me, the best photography requires gaining access. Talk to people. Usually what stops us is our own shyness.”

The students took that advice to heart. At the conclusion of the event, they warmly and confidently approached van Houtryve to take photos and ask for additional career advice.

The slideshow above captures the ten photos that were selected by Pulitzer Center staff as finalists in the competition. Below are the names all students that submitted to the competition. Click here for a full slideshow of all submissions.

2016 DCPS Study Abroad Photography Contest Contributors:

Aniya Awkard, McKinley Technology High School
Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Dezeraie Blount, Cardozo Education Campus
China

Timara Broadnax, Duke Ellington School Of The Arts
Barcelona

Ife Calhoun, School Without Walls
Dominican Republic

Lauren Dawkins, Benjamin Banneker Academic High School
Dominican Republic

Erica Dugué, School Without Walls
Belgium

Fatimah Fair, School without walls
Costa Rica

Asher Friedman-Rosen, Woodrow Wilson High School
Ecuador

Karreone Goddard, Bell Multicultural Campus
Beijing

Saige Gootman, Wilson High School
Ecuador

Glenn Hall, School Without Walls HS
Barcelona, Spain

Jennyfer Jimenez, School Without Walls
Belgium

Alexandra Diaz Merida, Oyster-Adams Middle School
The Mediterranean Coast

Emma Morris, School Without Walls
Mediterranean Coast

Cameron Noel, Duke Ellington School of the Arts
Peru

Torin O’ Brien, Alice Deal Middle School
Ecuador

Voyttina Savoy, Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School
Costa Rica

Sarah Ruiz, School Without Walls
Ecuador

John Schadegg, Deal Middle School
Paris, France

Liam Sims, Woodrow Wilson High School
Peru

Kyriea Smith, McKinley Technology High School
Ecuador

Christa Starghill, McKinley Technology Senior High School
Ecuador

Teodoro Topa, Woodrow Wilson High School
Senegal

Olivia Trice, Duke Ellington School of the Arts
Senegal, Africa

Contact us at education@pulitzercenter.org if you’d like support setting up a photography exhibition connected to global reporting in your school.