Ball State international students and faculty created an energetic and enthusiastic environment as they celebrated and awarded honorary photography in the International Student Photo Contest. 

Two winners were selected from each of the three photo submission categories — Grace Fu, Yujie Dong, Muzhda Ghulam, Mariana Schiavo, Bingbing Bai and Bin Zhang — based on content, style and creativity.

The contest started in October 2017 as a way for international students to express both themselves and their view on the world through photos. Because of the positive response the contest received, faculty at the Rinker Center decided to offer the program again.

“I love seeing their view of the world, and I’m glad that they share it with us,” said Laurie Cox, director of International Student Services, in an email. “We are amazed at the creativity expressed through these winning photographs.”

Students submitted three photos for the contest: one for Best Indiana Experience, one for U.S. sightseeing and one for International Culture and Places.

After a few of the best photos were selected, they were shared on social media so friends, family, faculty and students could take part in the voting process, helping decide first and second places. 

The winning submissions of the International Photo Contest will be on display in the Rinker Center until next school year starting Nov. 16, 2018. The contest started last year, with plans for it to continue as long as possible. Kamryn Tomlinson, DN.

Grace Fu and Yujie Dong won the Best Indiana Experience category with their pieces “On the Edge of Darkness” and “One Day After Class.”

Muzhda Ghulam was also selected from the Best Indiana Experience as the People’s Choice Award because the photo gave her portrayal of the fall season. 

Ghulam expressed her love for photography and said her “astronomical” award has motivated her to continue taking photos.

“She received a remarkable 215 likes and 130 shares on Facebook over a four-day period, [winning by a landslide,” Cox said, in an email. 

Bingbing Bai, the second place winner of U.S. sightseeing, said she was honored about her win with her spider web photograph. 

“I was looking around the park for inspiration when I found the little spider web,” Bai said. “I [noticed that] it had drops [of rain] on it, so I simply took [advantage] of it.”

Like Bai, Mariana Schiavo, the first place winner of U.S. sightseeing and second place winner of International Culture and Places, said she looks for inspiration when she is traveling. 

“The people closest to me are the ones that inspire me,” Schiavo said. “That is the reason why I believe my photos came out better than what I [originally expected.” 

The first place winner of International Culture and Places, Bin Zhang, said he gained inspiration from his trip to Kenya over the summer to choose the photos he submitted for that category. 

Bin Zhang wins first place for International Culture and Places Nov. 16, 2018. Zhang submitted a photo from his trip to Kenya over the summer. Kamryn Tomlinson, DN.

Zhang said the photo he submitted was not taken intentionally, but it was so meaningful and beautiful to him, he decided to “show the world.” Through his photo, Zhang said he hopes to draw attention to the severity of poverty in developing countries like Kenya. 

To commemorate the talented students of Ball State, the photos were printed onto 16-inch by 20-inch posters, which are hanging in the Rinker Center. The photos will hang until the 2019-2020 school year winners replace them. 

“If you think about it, taking a photograph is creating a memory, and if you share this memory with others, it has even more life and impact,” Cox said. “When we honor the winning photographers at the reception, we are also creating an indelible memory that they will hold for a lifetime.“It is hopefully one of many happy memories that they will have about their time at Ball State University.”

Contact Kamryn Tomlinson with comments at