Photo Contest Showcases International Travel Photography by UMF students

Photo Contest Showcases International Travel Photography by UMF students

By Haiyu Zheng, Contributing Writing

UMF Mantor Library recently held the “Live. Travel. Adventure” Photo Contest, which invited both professional and amateur photographers on campus to enter their best adventure photos for a chance to win a prize. Thirty-six astonishing photographs from twelve candidates were displayed on the gallery wall to ignite people’s sense of wonder by providing extraordinary stories.

   According to Mantor Library staff member Kelly Boivin, “Live. Travel. Adventure” is the theme of UMF’s annual reading program “On Our Minds” this year. Their goal is to get as many people on campus as possible reading and talking about the same book and sharing the reading experience.

The Lodhi Gardens (Brianna Martin)

   Boivin believed that there was no better way to get people involved than a travel photography contest. “This theme just begs for a photo contest,” Boivin said. “We got twelve people submitting the photos, and every single photo is somebody’s adventure.”

   UMF senior Brianna Martin was surprised when finding out that she won both the first and second place prizes of $75 and $25 with her images shot from her iPhone on her semester abroad in India. “I think people like [the photos] because they can be transported to that environment when seeing them,” said Martin.

   In the prize presentation ceremony, Martin was awarded by the sponsor of this contest, Ann Arbor, a local professional photographer in Farmington. Standing in front of the gallery wall, Martin told the stunning story behind her photos.

   “The picture with the powder on my face, that was during Holi, a Hindu festival which symbolizes the win of good over evil,” said Martin. “People walked on the street and threw colored powder on each other. The pink on this side of my face was from a random man who came to me and put his hand on my face and smeared the powder.” Martin laughed, and lifted her eyebrows as if she could still remember the initial shock that she received during that special moment.

   Martin thought that picture symbolized her full immersion in a different culture by trying something new even if it was not very comfortable, which was an adventure.

A Selfie of Brianna Martin in Holi Shenanigans in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Brianna Martin)

   The photo that won second place was shot in Lodhi Gardens in New Delhi. When capturing that scene, Martin stood in the darkness looking through the brightness of the gardens located on the other side of the path.

   “It didn’t seem real to me. It was so beautiful. It made me think of the Jungle Book in reality,” Martin gasped.   

   UMF Senior Sam Carignan, who submitted three photos of his trip in Germany, showed his appreciation to Martin’s photographs. “Knowing the whole story behind it helped me to understand the photo, but I think they’re already beautiful by themselves,” said Carignan. He commented that Martin did a really great job on the Lodhi Garden photograph. “The darker side narrows down the focal point, and that focal point was beautiful. I’m glad she won,” Carignan said, with a satisfied tone as if he himself won the competition, leaning back in his chair.

   The photo contest provided UMF students an opportunity to showcase people’s attitude and quality of life. Instead of merely showing scenes, it’s a buffet of different lifestyles. People learned more from the competition than what they expected. “I learned that you don’t have to be a professional photographer to take pictures that make others feel happy or certain emotion,” said Martin.

   To make it completely open to everyone, the contest organizer offered two ways of voting. One was voting in-person in the library. The photos were all numbered on the wall and people who passed by wrote down the number of their favorite images. The other method was online voting. All the photos were posted on Facebook. Any reaction on Facebook was counted: likes, smiley faces, or comments. Boivin explained that they didn’t put any boundaries on the voting.

   The photos are still displayed in the library. More information about the coming activities held by Mantor Library can be found on its Facebook page at


First-Year Teachers Represent UMF as Alumna Around the Globe

First-Year Teachers Represent UMF as Alumna Around the Globe

By Leah Boucher – Staff Reporter

Hannah Somes and Willa Barron are starting off their teaching careers in France and China respectively, where they are teaching students English and learning more about other languages, as well.

Somes, who is a 2017 UMF Elementary Education graduate currently teaching conversation-oriented English classes at University of Angers, initially wanted to teach abroad in this country due to her interest in French that started in sixth grade.

“Ever since my first French class, I have been seeking more immersion in the language and wanted to travel to France,” said Somes in a Skype interview.

Somes first arrived in France in August and was quick to experience culture shock. “I was informed that I was not allowed to hand my class a syllabus,” said Somes. “France has a much more open view on education in this sense, which has quickly made me a strong and creative lesson planner.”

Somes was fortunate enough to study abroad at the University of Montreal for the spring semester of 2016, which prepared her for her current teaching position. “Being at a university in Quebec, I ended up speaking French the majority of the time,” said Somes. “Without this experience of constantly speaking in French for several months, I think my transition to France would have been much more difficult.”

Willa Barron, another 2017 UMF Elementary Education graduate, is teaching second grade in Shanghai, China, at Shanghai Fushan Zhengda Foreign Language Primary School. She first heard of this opportunity at an Educator’s Career Fair at UMF last March, where there were representatives from Lee Academy, a private high school in Maine.

Willa Barron teaches an English lesson to her students at the Fushan Primary School.
(Photo Courtesy of Willa Barron)

“Lee Academy has connections with many international schools, the Fushan school being one of them. When I heard about an opportunity to actually teach abroad, I jumped at it,” said Barron in a Skype interview.

Although there are many challenges that arise as a first-year teacher, Barron always tries to find the positives in her day through her students. “When I’m having one of those ‘I’m the worst teacher and I’m not doing well at my job’ days, I just think to myself ‘Even if I teach my students nothing all day, they are still learning English, which will get them so far in life,’” said Barron.

UMF not only has international alumna, but also current students who will represent the school while student teaching abroad in the spring of 2018. Bailey Ohman, a senior Elementary Education major who will be student teaching abroad in Daegu, South Korea, was initially worried about a language barrier between the students and herself. However, she was quickly informed that the school in Daegu has an English curriculum.

“At the Daegu International School, the curriculum is pretty much the same to that in America,” said Ohman. “They use Common Core throughout the school, and all students are expected to read and write in English. I am excited to listen to a different language being spoken among students in the halls and among people in the city, though.”

Barron encourages other education majors to put their fears aside and student teach or teach abroad. “Although some future teachers may worry about language barriers when teaching in foreign countries, it is always important to remember that we all smile and laugh in the same language, and that is one of the best ways to build relationships with students,” said Barron.


Fifteen Days You Will Never Forget

Fifteen Days You Will Never Forget

By David Tschirch, Contributing Writer

Kristen Manzo, David Tschirch and Don Hutchins enjoy a trip through the Venice lagoon. (Photo Courtesy of Luann Yetter)

Kristen Manzo, David Tschirch and Don Hutchins enjoy a trip through the Venice lagoon. (Photo Courtesy of Luann Yetter)

Many people who hear the words “May Term to Italy” may quickly imagine themselves meandering through museums, eating stupendous amounts of pizza and pasta, and drinking wine with friends. While I did find myself doing many of these things when participating in the UMF travel course to Italy this past May, I know now that there is much more to gain during an experience abroad. 

Prior to traveling to Italy, I thought I had wined and dined, but I can now say with certainty that I was very wrong. In Italy, eating dinner is a way of life, a religion, and more importantly an experience. Your waiter or waitress will seat you. They do not pester you with questions; they let you take your time: they come over to your table when you nod to them. Even ordering a bottle of wine is an experience in itself. It comes to your table. The waiter pours one person just a taste of wine. He waits for you to take a sip just because he wants to be certain you are thoroughly enjoying it.

Italians look at food as a passion; they handle it with care and respect. I ate the best piece of chicken I have ever sunk my teeth into at a restaurant called Palantino in Florence. A few of my friends can attest that I nearly cried and laughed with joy after taking one bite. I never would have thought that something as simple as a piece of chicken could taste that amazing. You take your time with a meal which usually takes place much later in the evening. To my surprise the meals were reasonably priced: 12.50 euros for the roasted chicken and potatoes. Also, get the house wine. Usually a bottle is no more than 12 euros.

But enough about food.

What truly captured my attention throughout my stay was the famous artwork found within the country. The most notable fact that made Italy’s art so impressive to me (and I’m sure fellow Americans as well) is how old much of the artwork is. Some of the artwork is over five thousand years old, and it’s beauty is undeniable. On this trip, you will have opportunities to see the seventeen foot tall statue of David, the Duomo, the interior of the Duomo, (which has a mural of Dante’s depiction of hell),and many ancient churches such as San Marco in Venice as well. These churches have some of the most pristine art work you will ever see, and many of them have beautiful murals on the ceilings with interpretations of biblical stories. You will see the Coliseum, the Vatican with the museum and all the diverse art it has to offer, the Sistine Chapel, and so much more.

Though I know I’m convincing you to jump on board for the next Italy trip, you may still be asking yourself how a study abroad trip to Italy will benefit yout education. Well, have you ever heard the term Renaissance Man? A Renaissance Man by definition is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of subject areas; such a person is known to draw on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems. These people are well rounded individuals, and I am certain that there is only so much you can learn if you never get out of your comfort zone.

I have spent three full years at UMF. Some of that time has been the greatest of my life, but those fifteen days in Italy are days I will never forget. And I believe that many students on that trip would agree.

UMF student Donald Hutchins was one of my fellow travelers and also feels that May Term was special. “There is only so much that can be effectively taught in a classroom or by institutional guidelines,” he said. “Getting into the world and engaging places and events you’ve read about or researched not only provides a basis for increased academic knowledge, but also the practical wisdom and intelligence necessary for experiencing the best that life has to offer. Studying abroad fills the gaps where traditional and liberal arts academia falls short, and puts the student at the wheel of their experience in the face of unprecedented potential opportunities – for study and leisure.”    

If you take only one point from this article, it should be is this: get out of your comfort zone and apply something you have learned in a classroom to real life. I can assure you that traveling to Italy will leave you more confident than ever; you will know what good food tastes like; you will meet some of the happiest people in the world, like a woman you buy a cappuccino from every morning who remembers your face, or the owners of the hotel who greet you every day with a wholesome smile.  You will see some of the most impressive art the world has to offer. You may even say “Grazie” instead of thank you when you come back home. And maybe, just maybe, you will become a Renaissance Man.