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Capturing and Sharing Your Experience

During your time abroad, you’ll certainly want to capture and share aspects of your experience. Friends and family will ask to see and hear about what you learned. You will want to have some documentation of your experiences, reflections, and memories. And often the very process of creating and capturing can help you gain new insights and create new stories to tell.

As you go about capturing your experience, be mindful of what the act of capturing means for you and for the local community. Remember all that you’ve learned about intercultural engagement and how it changes our interaction with locals when we take pictures and videos of them. Think about what kinds of situations would make you uncomfortable—as a local here in the US—and avoid putting others in similar situations.

When you return and begin to share your experiences with others, be mindful again. The kinds of photos you choose to share and the way in which you share them will have an impact on people’s perceptions of your experience and of the world that you encountered.

You are an ambassador for CGIS, for the University of Michigan, and for the United States whether you want to be or not. The way you choose to capture your experience abroad and how you share that with others is a powerful process. We encourage you to think carefully about how you want to do this. Our ethical photography guide offers further thoughts on cultural engagement from behind the camera.


  • Journaling
  • Blogging (personal, CGIS blog)
  • Creating video footage
  • Photography (see below, photo contest)
  • Engaging CGIS social media by liking, sharing, retweeting, and tagging and by sending us interesting articles about your host culture.

Scholarship Service Requirement

If you received an LSA Study Abroad Scholarship, you are required to complete a service activity with CGIS (in addition to other requirements). Many of the activities listed above can fulfill this requirement. Look for an email from CGIS about the guidelines for completing your scholarship service requirement. Visit our CGIS service requirement page for an overview of current activities available to you and how to complete them.

CGIS Photo Contest

Nearly every photo you see in CGIS promotional materials was taken by a UM student who has returned from a study abroad experience. This gives our materials a vibrancy and authenticity that helps convey the incredible personal and academic journeys each of you has had. Each year, CGIS holds a contest in which students who participated in CGIS programs can submit photos and win prizes.

Fall 2017 CGIS Photo Contest

Prizes will be awarded to all winners at theCGIS Open House on Thursday, September 21, 2-4pm in Suite 200 Weiser Hall.

Photo Content
Photos will be judged on subject matter, quality, creativity, originality, and respect for local culture. Keep in mind that we are looking for images that capture a meaningful and respectful relationship between the photographer and the subject.

We encourage:

  • Images of students (preferably UM students) in an academic and/or intercultural setting.

  • Images of students interacting with people from the host country.

  • Images that present a unique, unusual insight about study abroad.

We discourage:

  • Images that demonstrate a lack of respect for individuals and/or local cultures.

  • Images that could be misinterpreted easily as cultural (mis)appropriation.

  • Images that depict children and minors. We will consider photos of children/minors only if you include a copy of written consent that you received from a parent/guardian. (Images of large groups and crowds are less concerning.)

Rules of Entry

  • Entrants must have participated in a CGIS-sponsored global education program during the 2016–17 academic year and/or a spring/summer 2016 program.
  • Photos must be your original work. Photos must have been taken while you were abroad (including photos taken outside your host country)
  • Digitally altered photos are not accepted. Black/white, sepia, and duotone images are also not accepted.
  • Entrants may submit up to five (5) photos and as few as one (1). 
  • Each file should be a jpeg named with your name and photo location, including city and country. You can include a site name before the city, such as “EiffelTower” or “Rainforest.”
    Example: JaneDoe_OlympicStadium_MunichGermany.jpg.
  • Resolution: Photos must be at least 16x10 or 10x16 inches at 300dpi resolution (4800x3000 or 3000x4800 pixels).
  • Each photo must be accompanied by a 40–60 word description of the event, location, and situation. This can include your reflections on your intercultural learning in the context of the photo—tell us some of the story behind the photo here.
  • Entries must be received no later than September 1st.