Bostonia is published in print three times a year and updated weekly on the web.
Nearly 1,000 photographs shot around the world by more than 400 students, faculty, staff, and alumni poured in to the fifth annual BU Global Programs photo contest. The top three photos were taken by students, in Australia, China, and Iceland. Other entries captured people and scenes in 78 locations, including Greece, Myanmar, Italy, and the United States.
Amanda Miller, Global Programs managing director of strategy and communications, says the judges looked for photos that were “more than just a pretty landscape,” but instead “told a story.”
Number of locations visited
The top prize winner, Laura Burvill, found such a story. “I seek out the spots within a city with character, passion, expression, and complexity,” says Burvill (CAS’18, COM’18), who won a waterproof GoPro camera package worth $350, for her vibrant photograph of a cellist on a small side street in Melbourne, Australia. “I hunt for the local food and street art; these I believe bring vibrant life to any city. Melbourne rewarded my exploration with a rich gift. I discovered a winding network of captivating and buzzing laneways leading away from the more corporate and tidy streets. The further in I delved, the more layers to the city I discovered. I had found Melbourne’s soul.”
“I hunt for the local food and street art; these I believe bring vibrant life to any city…I had found Melbourne’s soul.”
Leyao Xie (COM’19) earned second place honors for her photo of local farmers heading home along the terraced fields of Longji Titian, in China’s Guangxi Province.
Third prize was awarded to Hanwen Wu (GRS’19) for his ethereal shot of an ice cave inside Iceland’s Vatna Glacier, taken while on vacation with his wife in early March. “While enjoying this unearthly, beautiful formation, our tour guide told us that he had to drive about 10 more minutes to reach the entrance compared to just last year,” says Wu. “The entrances of such caves are retreating in record speed in recent years due to global warming. He said…he may lose his job as a cave guide since these caves will be disappearing if the average temperature keeps rising.”
“The enthusiasm, quality, and diversity of subject and location continue to amaze us.”
The monumental task of choosing the winners fell to a panel of 8 judges, who first whittled the entries to 18 semifinalists, then to a dozen (first-, second-, and third-place winners, along with 9 finalists). Blind judging meant they had no information about who took the picture or where the photo was taken.
“The enthusiasm, quality, and diversity of subject and location continue to amaze us,” says Willis Wang, vice president and associate provost for Global Programs, which comprises Study Abroad, the Center for English Language & Orientation Programs, the International Students & Scholars Office, and Global Support. “It makes the job of the judges not only a pleasure, but also a challenge. Each year it gets harder and harder to choose the top 12 photos from among the entries.”
click photo to expand
First Place: Laura Burvill, COM
“I am fairly particular about how I travel. I don’t like to follow a play-by-play or pack-in twenty different activities into a week-long trip. I enjoy leaving my days open and flexible. This helps me answer the question, why do people choose to live here? What makes this place special? I seek out the spots within a city with character, passion, expression, and complexity. I hunt for the local food and street art, these I believe bring vibrant life to any city. Melbourne rewarded my exploration with a rich gift. I discovered a winding network of captivating and buzzing laneways leading away from the more corporate and tidy streets. The further in I delved, the more layers to the city I discovered. I had found Melbourne’s soul.”
Second Place: Leyao Xie, COM
“This photo was shot in a very famous terraced field call Longji Titian in Guangxi Province in China. I was following the local farmers from their work to their home. This image captures the peculiar shape of their field and illustrates the local farmer’s life style. The photo has a Chinese name, ‘天路’, which means ‘the way to the end of sky.’
Third Place: Hanwen Wu, GRS
“This is an ice cave under the southern part of Vatnajökull (Vatna Glacier). Its formation is due to melting water from the glacier. While enjoying this unearthly beautiful formation, our tour guide told us that he had to drive about 5-10 more minutes to reach the entrance compared to just last year. The entrances of such caves are retreating in record speed in recent years due to global warming. He said with all his heart that he may eventually lost his job as a cave guide since these caves will be disappearing if the average temperature keeps rising.”
“This photo was taken in Iceland at Skógafoss. I contrasted the overpowering beauty and strength of nature with us humans. The power of the waterfall is exemplified by the vast amount of mist surrounding this majestic location and closing in on the only human in the picture. The deep green moss that covers the surrounding environment shows that beauty takes time.”
Hermosa Beach, California
“Most consider this place to be a vacation spot. I’m lucky enough to call it my home. In a time in my life where things are changing all the time, having the beach as my backyard is a privilege. It’s a great place for me to take time and relax and clear my head as well as experience breathtaking sunsets like this. I not only came to Boston University because it was a great school, but I also came to the East Coast so I wouldn’t take my home for granted. The longer I’m away from home, the more I appreciate everything about it.”
“High in a treeless valley in China’s remote Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture lies the the largest Tibetan Buddhist school in the world. Founded in 1980, the Seda Larung Wuming Tibetan Buddhist Institute consists of a few main buildings and tens of thousands of small dormitories built on the surrounding hillsides. I took this photo at the top site of the mountain.”
Folegandros Island, Greece
“I have a thing for old doors–the stories they could tell! How much joy and sadness they have seen. How many stolen kisses, or secrets being told, just inside their threshold. How many dangers they have kept at bay. These are the doors to a chapel on my favorite Greek island of Folegandros, during a sailing trip I took last summer. Never have I seen such beauty or felt such peace than in this place.”
Mt. Fuji, Japan
“This is Mt. Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain, seen from Lake Tanuki in Shizuoka, about 90 miles southwest of Tokyo. The symmetrical cone that Mt. Fuji is known for was snow-capped in early January. Just moments before the photo was taken, the inverted Mt. Fuji was clearly reflected onto the lake. Unfortunately, the winter breeze blew most of it away, but you can still just about catch a glimpse of it.”
North End, Boston
“Sometimes the most captivating photographs are right around us in the beautiful city of Boston. I snapped this portrait in Boston’s North End when I was out exploring the city (and grabbing a snack at Mike’s Pastry, of course!). Everything about this subject was captivating to me. From his glasses and jewelry to his paisley shirt and cool attitude. As BU students, we have an infinite amount of places to explore right in the city itself. This picture reminds me not to forget that.”
Daniel Segrè, CAS
“Smell of sulfur and breathtaking views during a hike on a volcano in the Aeolian Islands in Sicily. In the midst of discussions with colleagues on the evolution of biological networks, this hike was a reminder of the ancient origin of living systems.”
“An elder man sits outside his home in a traditional ‘Shikumen’ neighborhood in Shanghai. These neighborhoods are like spiderwebs throughout downtown Shanghai. However, recent commercial and residential development has led to the complete destruction and flattening of these classic boroughs. The man in the photograph sits in the midday sun, smoking a pipe and watching people walk through the alleyway where his home is located.”