Student photography captures quiet moments on trips to Turkey and Morocco

"Praying in the Blue Mosque" by Minh Trinh ('14), taken in Istanbul, Turkey."Praying in the Blue Mosque" by Minh Trinh ('14), taken in Istanbul, Turkey. (Click photo to view larger.)In Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, a man kneels by a window, about to begin prayer. In an empty street in Sefrou, Morocco, a woman leans from a doorway, calling to someone unseen. These two images, of quiet moments amidst the bustle of a day, were captured by Harvard undergraduates Minh Trinh and Heidi Hurst during travel to the Middle East last year. CMES awarded their photos first prize and honorable mention (respectively) in the 2012 Harvard College International Photo Contest’s CMES-sponsored category of “best photo taken in the Middle East region.”

First prize–winner Minh Trinh (’14) spent the spring 2012 semester abroad as part of the new Harvard College Europe Program. Students in the six-month program enroll in courses at the universities of Strasbourg (France), Basel (Switzerland), and Freiburg (Germany), participate in specially designed seminars, take on internships, and travel. Trinh’s photo in the Blue Mosque was taken during a week-long side trip to Istanbul, Turkey where he and his classmates explored the question of where “Europe” ends.  “Our answer,” Trinh says, “was happily unsatisfactory: Istanbul resembles both a part of Europe as well as the beginning of a new world.”  Trinh is a Government concentrator interested in the development of welfare state institutions in developing economies and the constitutional foundations for new democracies.

"The Admonition" by Heidi Hurst ('15), taken in Sefrou, Morocco."The Admonition" by Heidi Hurst ('15), taken in Sefrou, Morocco. (Click photo to view larger.)Heidi Hurst (’15), who received an honorable mention for her photo, is a Pure Mathematics concentrator pursuing a language citation in Modern Standard Arabic. Hurst spent three weeks last summer studying at the Arabic Language Institute in Fes, and admits that the chance to travel was her secret ulterior motive. She used the weekends during her stay to travel to Chefchaouen, Marrakech, and the Sahara. Her winning photo was taken in the town of Sefrou, a market town near Fes known for its cherry festival. She explains, “The old, car-free portion of the town was very busy because it was market day, but I caught this quiet moment as I was leaving.”

The Harvard College International Photo Contest is an annual contest sponsored by the Office of International Education (OIE).  This is the third year CMES has judged the category and sponsored a prize for the best photo taken in the Middle East region. This year’s winning photos, including those selected by the Office of International Programs and other participating centers and programs, are on display in Lamont Library through December 19, 2013, and can also be viewed on the OIP website.

CMES encourages students planning travel to the Middle East to enter next year’s contest, and to check out our summer funding opportunities, which include funding for Arabic language study and for travel and study in Morocco and Israel. The deadline for 2013 summer funding applications is February 15, 2013.