GEC Photo Contest Guidelines

In the Oxford Companion to the Photograph, we find the following statement about memory and photography: "Since the advent of photography the photographic image has been regarded as an aide-mémoire. The very act of taking a photograph signals the moment as worthy of remembering and, while objects break, landscapes change, and people die, the photograph endures, allowing it to be used to remember ‘what has been.’" 

The NWC Global Education Center annual Photo Contest is centered on the theme of the photographic image as an aide-mémoire. Photographs show how something that was initially shocking became commonplace. They further help us chart and remember how we've grown, adapted, learned, and became bi-cultural on our study abroad sojourns.

The GEC Photo Contest as a highly concentrated, fun way to capture and display concrete examples of your learning experiences. We are looking for photographs that capture the "Aha!" moment of study abroad and spark awareness in other people.

Eligibility Requirements

Entrant must:

  • be currently enrolled at NWC;
  • have attended a  semester or summer/winter study abroad through the NWC Global Education Center;
  • submit pictures in digital format and preferably in high resolution;
  • provide a title and information about each submitted picture (where was it taken and how it relates to the category for which it is submitted).

Photo Contest Categories

Defining Moments
 How has your experience changed you or your perspective about the world we live in?
People/Portraits  Of people from the culture or other members of your group andhow these encounters helped you gain insight into their lives, beliefs, and values.
Sensational Sights  The places you went and the wonders you saw and what these sights meant for you, personally, emotionally, or spiritually.
 Crossing Cultures  How was the culture gap bridged?

Selection Process

All submission entries will be compiled in a survey and sent out as an anonymous link to Northwestern campus. Images with the most likes will make it to the final round. The final winners will be determined by a group of faculty, staff, and students, based on:

 1) the strength of the conveyed message; and
 2) the quality and originality of the image.

The winners will:

  1. be announced to the public by the end of November;
  2. receive a prize for each category won;
  3. be published in the GEC  newsletter and study abroad promotional materials.

Disclosure: Submissions to this contest become the property of the Global Education Center. If you enter this contest, it is understood that you have granted the Center the full rights to use and circulate your work, with attribution to the author.

Submission Details

Entrants may submit UP TO FOUR photographs but only ONE per category.
Save your image(s) as "Last Name-Country-Title of Photo.jpeg" and your picture description(s) as "Last Name-Country-Category.doc"

Submit to:

Submission Deadline:
 Middle of November of each year (the call for submissions opens in late October)

Photo Contest Gallery

View 2018 Contest Winners 2017 Contest Winners 2016 Contest Winners 

View previous photo contest winners:
          *2015 *2014 *2013 *2012 

Winners and Prizes

Prizes will vary yearly, but will consist of awarding gift cards to the winners. 


2018 winners will have their photos displayed in the NWC Library.


There will be one winner per category.

Please note: Although you have four chances of winning first place, once you have won one category you cannot receive a prize for two or more categories. If one student wins more than one category, the prize will go to the second place winner of that category.

GEC Essay Contest Guidelines

It is sometimes hard to put into words what we have experienced abroad. Parts of that experience escape our awareness and pass without any consciousness.
The GEC annual Essay Contest provides you with an opportunity to dig deep into the very essence of your study abroad experience and give those fleeting moments and fragments a written form, a visual presence that can be imagined, remembered, and shared.

We invite works of non-fiction, fiction, poetry, essays, and any other works of writing inspired by your time abroad. We are looking for works that lead readers into the unique world of your study abroad experience, its joys and challenges, unforgettable moments, stories shared, and lessons learned.

Eligibility Requirements

Entrants must:
  • be current degree-seeking NWC students who have attended or are currently attending a summer or semester abroad program through the NWC Global Education Center.

Essay Contest Categories

How can you increase your chances of writing a winning essay? Here are some tips for possible topics. Please note that these are simply suggestions and you are free to experiment and let your imagination flow:

Culture shifts   One of the challenges of study abroad is to adjust to life in a different culture. What does it feel like to be in a foreign environment? What are some of the challenges and the advantages of feeling different or the same?       
 Host culture  One of the primary goals of study abroad is to experience another culture and to learn from it. Help us gain insight into your host culture, its hopes and struggles, delights and concerns, values and beliefs.
 Personal growth  In what way were you stretched by this experience? What did you learn about your place in the world and the future you want to pursue.
 The surprises of study abroad  Open topic - something that surprised you and would equally surprise and charm your readers...

Selection Process

All entries will be reviewed by committees composed of GEC staff members and NWC faculty and evaluated based on the following criteria:

1) Content (creativity, clarity, expressiveness; message conveyed, and brings out the value of study abroad)

2) Writing quality (organization and logic, good command of grammar such as syntax, spelling, and punctuation)

The winner will:

  • be announced to the public by April 15;
  • receive a cash prize of $100, and
  • be published in the GEC  newsletter and on the study abroad website.

Disclosure: Submissions to this contest become the property of the Global Education Center. If you enter this contest, it is understood that you have granted the Center the full rights to use and circulate your work, with attribution to the author.

Submission Details

Submission requirements:

  • One essay written in English
  • Word limit: 400
  • Original work (written by the student submitting the work)
  • Not published before; has not participated in other contests
  • Times New Roman font, 12pt font size, double-spaced, 1 or 1.5. margins
  • May include visuals (photographs, graphics, drawings) given they are the student’s own work
  • Must have title
  • Saved as word doc. (last name-first name-program-term.doc)
Submit to:
Submission deadline: March 14 of each year

2014 Grand Prize Winner

Be a Christian Who Travels by Kara Nonnemacher (Romania Semester, Fall 2013)