BY UTPALA MENON
On October 31, SAIS Europe gathered at Giulio’s Bar to enjoy the work exhibited as part of the 2016 photo contest launched by the international development program’s flagship magazine, Perspectives.
The event showcased photos from students at SAIS D.C. and the SAIS Europe. The organizers noted this year’s particular enthusiasm for the contest, with over 200 submissions as compared to 100 last year.
First year IDEV MA-students, Grace Cramer and Adam Weber organized the event and shared their experiences with the Observer.
“Grace and I were in close contact with the rest of the editorial team in D.C,” said Weber. “We had weekly meetings via Skype. Grace took care of printing the photos and I was in charge of reserving Giulio’s bar and asking Professor Mahrukh Doctor to speak for us.”
Cramer added to Weber’s comments by explaining the humorous intricacies they faced in Italy. “Everything went pretty smoothly with the planning until we found out we couldn’t print the photos at SAIS,” she said. “We had to take it outside and speaking to the local printers really improved my Italian”
The photos were judged on both their creative linkage to the theme of development and also, to a certain extent, their general aesthetic appeal. The jury was a mix of the magazine’s editors in both Washington D.C. and Bologna.
The winners from SAIS Europe were first-year MA student, Julie Mae Gabato, who won third place and MAIA student Méline Fulda, who won fourth place. Gabato took to the platform to explain the story behind her photo, of a homeless man who slept on the roadside in Rajasthan. She said, “Amidst the danger and noise that surrounds him, this homeless man is taking his much needed nap along a bustling street in Jaipur. Although he looks famished and cold, the chilly winter didn’t disturb him”. She continued, “Such is the epitome of … most developing countries like India, which this photo reminded me of”.
In addition to the photo contest, the event provided a platform to launch Perspectives and announce the theme for this year’s submissions. Professor of Latin American studies, Dr. Mahrukh Doctor introduced the theme: “Technology in Development”.
She suggested that the chosen theme for the year was broader than it initially appears and offered multiple approaches. For example, she explained how technology could serve as an innovative tool to help develop national frameworks. She also said that students might be inspired to write about the information technology debate, and whether it does or does not further exclude marginal people.
She concluded by speaking about the digital divide and the accessibility of technology in the developing world. Later this year, she said, all these topics could inspire research in the form of blog posts or articles for Perspectives.
Utpala is a campus columnist for the SAIS Observer. She is an MA student concentrating in International Law and Organizations at SAIS Bologna.