Winning Pictures from UNC Asheville Study Abroad Photo Contest on Display in Blowers Gallery

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The Pianist of Milford Sound, Tamarya Sims, NZ

By Nikolai Wise '21

Is the spring weather giving you a case of wanderlust? Take a break from studying and go on a visual trip around the world in Ramsey Library’s Blowers Gallery, where the winning photographs from UNC Asheville’s Study Abroad Program's 2018 international photo contest are now on display through April 26. A reception with the photographers will be held April 10 from noon to 1 p.m. in the gallery, where you’ll have the chance to hear the stories behind the winning photographs.

The first place winners for 2018’s competition are Gloria Kirk’s Preparing for Tabaski, Sophia Ahmad’s Milo, Gloria Kirk’s Badian Preparing Lunch and Tamarya Sims’ The Lone Tree. Additionally, Tamarya Sims’ The Pianist of Milford Sound won the Chancellor’s Purchase Award.

Kirk traveled to Senegal for her study abroad experience, when she took a bridge year before starting college with Global Citizen Year.Gloria Kirk’s "Badian Preparing Lunch"

“I picked Senegal because I wanted to immerse myself in a culture that was different than my own and Senegal is such a beautiful and welcoming country,” Kirk said. “In my Preparing for Tabaski photo, four-year-old Adja is showing of her new dress her family had made for her for the Muslim holiday of Tabaski. Her brother and cousins are cutting up the meat of the sacrificed sheep in the background.

“In Badian Preparing Lunch, my fifteen-year-old host cousin Badian cooks the national dish of Senegal, Ceebu Jen, a rice based meal with fish and vegetables, for twenty family Gloria Kirk's "Preparing for Tabaski"members.”

Sophia Ahmad won first place in the “nature’s beauty” category and studied abroad in Ecuador to study the effects of the petroleum industry on the rainforest and indigenous nations, as well as ecotourism. Her photo was of the guide dog she and her fellow students followed as they trekked through the Pasachoa Trek.

“My advice to students wishing to study abroad is to figure out one element that you really seek, whether it's the climate, language, culture or food you want to experience,” Ahmad said. “Follow that when choosing where to travel, and who knows what other surprises and interests will develop along the way!”

Tamarya Sims, winner of the “reflections” category and the Chancellor's Purchase Award, studied ecology and zoology in New Zealand. In her photo, The Pianist of Milford Sound, she had traveled to Milford Sound and Tamarya Sims’ "The Lone Tree"she turned to see the man playing a piano on the side of the road.

 “I think the experiences of learning at a school in a different country, learning from the people, and being immersed in their culture shapes the student/alumni/citizen you become in the best way possible,” Sims said.

The exhibit is free and open to the public. For more information, including library hours, visit or call 828.251.6436.