End of Program: Photo Contest Winners

In the weeks leading up to this fall’s End of Program Workshop, Global UGRAD participants submitted photos to the UGRAD Photo Contest that culminated at the workshop in Washington, D.C. Participants could submit one photo for each of the following five categories: American Experiences, Fall Fun, Sharing Culture, School Spirit, and Community Service. Submissions had to be photos participants had either taken themselves or that were taken of them during their semester in the United States. Participants, along with World Learning staff, voted on their favorite submissions for each category. On the final night of the Workshop, all photo entries played in a slideshow during the closing dinner, and the winning photos were announced. To further congratulate the winners and recognize their stellar photos, the Global Gazette is featuring the top submissions.

(Left to Right) Romela Harutyunyan, Seda Grigoryan, Dinah Degorio, Mcaine Andrei Carlos, Rachel Baxal, Rejana Avdiaj, Weng Lam Chiew, Alina Mamatova, and Nataly Zuniga Sosa, winners of the Photo Contest, pose on stage during the Closing Ceremony at the End of Program Workshop.


Seda Grigoryan | Armenia | University of the Incarnate Word

“Enjoying autumn’s magic right here in San Antonio! Wandered through the colorful and vibrant pumpkin patch at one of the city’s farms, and it truly felt like I was part of an authentic American culture.”

Dinah Degorio | Philippines | Portland State University

“Oregon’s Majestic Model: When a Mountain Goat Strikes a Pose”


Mcaine Andrei Carlos | Philippines | Emporia State University

“The Philippines, being a tropical country located on the equator, has two seasons: rainy and dry. Since I had never experienced Fall before, spending a day at the Cider Mill in Louisburg, Kansas, with my host family became a core memory for me. If there’s one thing that we Filipinos value the most, it’s family. In the Philippines, my only family is my single mother, who raised me single-handedly. So, having a host family as large as this while being 8,000 miles away from home made it easier for me to adapt to new seasons like Fall. In this whirlwind of change, I find comfort in the grace of experiencing these new seasons, and the unwavering blessing of family, even while experiencing homesickness and longing for home.”


Rejana Avdiaj | Albania | University of Northern Iowa

“At the homecoming parade, we had the chance to showcase our respective nations by wearing our traditional attire and proudly displaying our flags to the entire Iowa community. It was an incredible experience to hear the enthusiastic cheers and waves from both children and adults as we strolled through the parade. Being able to represent Albania and convey the rich values and cultural attributes of my homeland is something I will forever hold with great pride.”

Rachel Baxal | Philippines | University of Wisconsin – Green Bay

“We Filipinos are known for our love for singing. That’s why [my friends] and I decided to join the UWGB Variety Show 2023 where we sang “A Whole New World”. Out of 15 contestants, we’re able to bag the gold medal! More than the prize, the most fulfilling [part] about this is that I had the chance to show them one of the things the Philippines is passionate about.”


Weng Lam Chiew | Malaysia | University of Northern Iowa

Romela Harutyunyan | Armenia | University of Missouri – Columbia

“On the final day of the welcome week at the University of Missouri, there’s a fascinating event called The First Roar. It is among our university’s most significant traditions. On this day, all of the newcomers and first-semester Mizzou students gather in Memorial Stadium for their first roar. All of the students are known as tigers since Truman the tiger is the university’s emblem. For this reason, all of the newbies join together, yelling M-I-Z and answering with Z-O-U. There’s a fascinating tradition surrounding this: wherever you are, if you see someone wearing Mizzou merchandise, you should yell M-I-Z, and they should shout Z-O-U back.”

Alina Mamatova | Kyrgyzstan | SUNY Plattsburgh

“Red is the color of my host university. It is also the color of my country’s flag, associated with passion, strength, and courage. I see the university spirit in the same way. Looking at the photo one can see the cardinal bird mascot known as “Burghy.” It’s not just a bird. It is support and encouragement for students during different events. I love this spirit. I love this color. I love this community.”


Nataly Zuniga Sosa | Honduras | Northern Michigan University

“As part of my community service, I went to an outdoor recreation center. This center teaches classes to children about outdoor activities and leadership. With my friends, we helped sand wood that will serve as the children’s beds next summer. The camp relies greatly on the generosity of local volunteers’ time and work to provide the best educational experiences for visiting schools and camp groups.”