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Northwest Missouri State University

Photo-Essay Contest 2010

Palermo, Sicily

1st place: Erin Colasacco

The photo that I have chosen to enter was taken on a street in Palermo, Sicily in November 2009. While wandering to find a place to eat (the only thing I did while in Sicily…), I quickly snapped this picture. Later, it would become not only a favorite photo of the semester, but one that easily sums up the entire journey.

My favorite thing to do is go where I have never been; to “mine the darkness” as I like to say. Although it makes for an interesting and exciting life, it’s not always as easy as I’d like to make it seem. My journey to Italy was complete darkness. I was the first from Northwest to attend Cattolica; I had no idea what to expect; I knew not a single person and certainly not one word of Italian (besides the obvious: cappuccino and gelato).

My three and half months abroad were the biggest and most rewarding challenge of my life to date. I found that the most valuable things that you learn from life are not from books or classrooms but from the experiences you choose that push you out of your comfort zone. I repeatedly surprised myself with guts, street smarts and abilities that I would have never discovered had I never taken on the challenge. Navigating a metro in a foreign language became second nature, a thrill and a joy. Conversations in other languages no longer intimidated me; after all, why do you need words when a smile is universal? I wasn’t afraid to relax and take three hours for dinner; what was the rush? I perfected the Italian art of “la bel far niente,” the beauty of doing nothing. And to think I may have missed it all had I not ventured into the unknown with an open mind, much like the snapping of this photograph.

At first glance, it was a dark and scary alleyway. I didn’t know where it went or where it ended but I took the chance on it, and it turned into one of the most cherished photographs of the entire trip. In the same way, I didn’t know where my Italian journey would take me. The unknown was intimidating at first, but blossomed into a beautiful and rewarding experience. I still don’t know where this street ended – just like I don’t know where my journey in life will end, but I know that due to my experiences abroad, I’m a lot more open to whatever lies ahead.


2nd place: Betsy Rhoades


During my stay in London, there were several things that transpired that really made me fall in love with that great city. There’s no way that with everything I experienced, I could pinpoint an exact favorite moment or experience. It’s the little things that I grew to love about the English. I’ve never seen people read so much. Whenever I was using public transport or out and about, a typical Englishman was never without a book or newspaper. Also, I have never seen people so serious about lining up (or queuing, as they call it). The English live and breathe queuing. It was vital to them that you stand on the right and walk on the left when riding an escalator. I got so used to standing on the right on the escalators, that I actually started doing it at home! These may seem like silly things to talk about, but they are what make up an Englishman, and these small things are what I miss about England on a day to day basis. I will also never forget the first time I saw Big Ben. It’s surreal seeing something in real life that you’ve only seen in pictures and movies. I never got sick of seeing Big Ben (or Parliament and Buckingham Palace!). On one particular Friday night, a flatmate and I decided to walk around the area that Big Ben, Parliament, and the London Eye are located. It was a typical foggy, rainy London night, and it was then, that I captured the picture I’m entering. It is my favorite picture of London, out of the countless hundreds I took. To me it captures my amazing adventure in London. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.



3rd Place: Leah Sooy

While I went on many trips and adventures during my time abroad in Australia, the memories I cherish the most are those from my everyday experiences.

I made new friends while abroad, but one stands out in particular. Jaime and I realized quickly that we were so similar in disposition and partialities that we were practically soul mates. One thing we particularly enjoyed together was waking up at ridiculously early hours of the morning to walk four miles to the beach and watch the sunrise.

One sunrise trip in particular stands out in my memory. We woke up at four in the morning to arrive at the beach in time for sunrise. As we walked, the world was still and quiet around us, creating a sense of security and freedom. We discussed our lives, gaining a new perspective about each of our own American lives, from which we were temporarily removed.

We arrived at Trinity Beach when the sky was turning purple in anticipation of the coming sun. Jaime took a photography class in Australia, and she set up her equipment while we waited for the sun to break over the horizon. Her assignment was to capture motion, and she asked me to be her subject. When the sun finally made its appearance, the sky was overcast and dreary. I did back handsprings and back tucks at five o’clock in the morning until I was so weary that I could barely get off the ground when I jumped, yet still Jaime did not have a picture with the sunset in the background like she wanted.

Finally, the sun broke through the clouds, and we set up for another photograph. I jumped backwards, kicking up sand with my feet as the world moved in slow motion around me. I felt the grainy texture of the sand as my hands hit the surface and I flexed my muscles to pull my feet over. When I stood up, I looked at Jaime, knowing that she had just gotten the picture she wanted.

That picture is my favorite photograph of my time in Australia. It represents all of the beauty and excitement that I experienced while studying abroad there. I feel that the photo really exposes a part of my soul that will always be linked to Australia, and the sense of adventure that I felt during those everyday life experiences.

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