Five striking images have been honored by judges of a photo competition for international students attending community colleges in the Northwest region of the U.S.

Rich culture

Woman fanning out colorful dress she is wearing (© Sadia Bano)
“Rich culture,” winner of the #NWCCIinspire category (© Sadia Bano)

Sadia Bano of Pakistan, who attends Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington, took a portrait of another student — Amanda Nohamba of South Africa. Amanda’s jewel-toned skirt embodies her colorful essence.

“[She has] one of my favorite personalities,” Sadia said. “She is an inspirational girl figure — the way she thinks and her approach towards life.”

This category was for a photo that shows what inspires a student to spread cultural understanding. Both the photographer and the subject are in a program that exposes them to U.S. culture and also to peers from 11 other countries.


Two people jumping on dock by wooded area (© Ali Ahmed)
Second-place winner in the #ExchangesAre category (© Ali Ahmed)

Ali Ahmed of Yemen took this shot of himself and fellow student Gladys Annor of Ghana. For Ahmed — who left his homeland two years ago to attend an American secondary school — the cultural-exchange experience has literally been a leap into the unknown.

He makes the most of his time at Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Washington. It is “not all about reading and doing homework,” he says. He enjoys socializing and the support it offers. “I can jump higher to reach success with my friends,” he says.

The prize in this category is for a photo that speaks to what student exchanges are all about, adventure but also the sacrifices of leaving home.

Memories never die

Silhouette of two people sitting on bench next to tree at sunset (© Latif Abdul)
Second-place winner in the #NWCCIinspire category (© Latif Abdul)

When Latif Abdul of Pakistan came upon this scene at the bay in Bellingham, it made him cry. “When I saw this couple, I remembered my parents,” he explains.

Latif’s mother and father live in different countries so that they can afford to educate Latif and his six siblings. While he studies at Whatcom Community College, his siblings have graduated from schools in Pakistan, where his mother lives. But his father has had to work in Dubai. “My father came to Pakistan every two years to see us. [My parents] love each other, but they sacrificed being together for our future,” he says.

The prize in this category honors a photo that inspires students to improve understanding and to create a better world for tomorrow.

Cup of tea

Two women sharing cup of tea (© Eshra Hassan)
People’s Choice award (© Eshra Hassan)

Eshra Hassan of Bangladesh took a photo of two students — one from Pakistan and the other from South Africa — sharing a cup of tea and a laugh.

The photographer and the subjects attend Pierce College. Sharing traditions helps exchange students to overcome their differences, Eshra says. “There is no better way to share your culture … than over a cup of tea under the sweet spring sun.”

This photo won the People’s Choice prize.

All of the student photographers entered the Northwest Community College Initiative (NWCCI) photo contest, and winners were announced May 10. The NWCCI program is a partner in the U.S. Department of State’s Community College Initiative, which spans the entire United States.

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