Padnos International Center hosts photo competition

Courtesy Photo /
PIC is a competition for students who have studied abroad to participate in. Photographic works will be accepted.

Courtesy Photo / PIC is a competition for students who have studied abroad to participate in. Photographic works will be accepted.

Molly Waite

Many people dream of seeing the exotic and stunning landscapes of countries like Australia, India, Russia and Egypt. For the students at Grand Valley State University, these foreign vistas are coming home to be seen and shared.

The GVSU Padnos International Center is hosting its first study abroad photo contest, which opened to the public Friday.

“This is the first photo contest we’ve had, and the students are bringing in images of such excellent quality,” said Liz Smith, coordinator of the Padnos International Center. “These photographs are just gorgeous and truly capture the visual representation of the study abroad trips.”

PIC Pics competition photos will be organized into six different categories: “Where is Your Classroom?,” “Get Lost,” “Social Issues,” “Send Me There!,” “The Great Outdoors” and “Celebration, Tradition & Ritual.”

The winners of the contest will not be decided by members of the university administration, however. Reminiscent of Grand Rapids’ ArtPrize competition, the public will decide which photo deserves first place. All current students, faculty and staff at GVSU can view the images in Lake Ontario Hall and can cast their ballots in the Padnos International Center until Nov. 30.

With over 100 student entries and over 1,000 photographs from all over the globe, Smith noted that voters may have a difficult time choosing a winner.

“This contest is really about art as an accessible medium,” she said. “ArtPrize has had such an impact in Grand Rapids, making art accessible to the public, so I think that what we’re trying to do is similar. We’re sharing images from all over the world, places that maybe you and I will never go, and bringing them to Allendale.”

Prizes will be awarded to the first, second and third place winners, and the photographer with the most votes will receive a $500 travel voucher to any destination in the world. In addition, the top two photographs from each category will be added to the permanent GVSU Art Collection and will be placed in one of the new buildings on campus.

Senior Claudia Carrera works as a peer advisor in the PIC and said that she thinks the contest is a wonderful idea.

“I just want the Grand Valley community to be aware of the international beauty these diverse and extraordinary countries have to offer and issues they have to face,” she said. “I especially hope students become aware of the options available to them for studying abroad. I hope these pictures inspire or motivate them to seek international adventures and experiences.”

The PIC Pics competition was created as part of GVSU’s 50th anniversary, but both Smith and Carrera hope that it will become an annual event to help raise awareness about the study abroad opportunities open to students.

“I think this is a great opportunity for the whole Grand Valley community to get involved,” Smith said. “I feel like a lot of students think that they can’t study abroad and I hope that this contest will show them that this is an opportunity available to everyone.”

For more information on how to vote, contact the Padnos International Center at (616) 331-3898 or visit

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