Global Spartan Photo Contest 2024 Winners!

The month of March is Global Spartan Month and one of the many fun activities that we have is the annual Global Spartan Photo Contest. This year, our Global Spartan Photo Contest had 43 amazing photo and narrative submissions from students who have experience in one of our study abroad programs and our international students. The Global Spartan Month Planning Committee selects the winner of the Most Impactful Narrative prize and also determines our set of finalists. Finalists then have their photographs and narratives posted on our Instagram pages, at the Global Spartan Fair and at the Global Games event. Thank you to everyone who submitted a photo entry and to all those who voted. Congratulations to all our finalists and a special congratulations to our winners.

First Place

Sharat Hiremath

Ganesha’s Grace: A Festive Portrait

This Ganesha Chaturthi portrait captures the rich cultural tapestry of Hindu spirituality. The vibrant colors, intricate details, & the divine presence of Lord Ganesha symbolize the auspicious celebration of new beginnings. This photo holds personal significance as it embodies the cultural heritage that resonates deeply within me, connecting to spirituality & the joyous festivities of Ganesha.

Second Place

San Vu

My Seoulmates

This is the moment that I have been dreaming of! To walk around Gyeongbokgung Palace in traditional Korean hanboks with my new friends. While the city of Seoul sparks with new technology and innovation, walk into the next street and you will find gems like Gyeongbokgung, the oldest and largest palace standing at 629 years old. Pictured are 4 strangers turned housemates turned friends! 🙂

Third Place

Trusha Thakore

Haldi Ceremony

The photo was taken on the day of “Haldi rasam/ceremony”. It is a pre-wedding ritual in India and is also called “Pithi ceremony”. It is a tradition in which the body of bride and groom are applied with a paste of turmeric, sandalwood and other ingredients. The yellow color is considered auspicious and keeps the couple away from evil eye. The celebration is filled with dance, music and laughter.

Best Narrative

Madison Cross

Blossoming Cultural Experiences

This photo was taken on my first excursion in Vietnam, a day I had no idea what to expect with little knowledge of the language. Despite the language barrier, this lovely woman who was in charge of rowing our boat stopped to pick a flower and give it to me. It was the most welcoming and thoughtful gesture that brought the two of us together. Soon after she let me sit and row the boat with her!!

ISSS has Moved & Meet our Student Assistants!

As some of you may know, ISSS has moved locations! Don’t worry, we’re still in the same building but just on the first floor! When walking into the CPGE building, sign in at the front desk with our amazing student assistants using the computer. Wait in the lobby area and an advisor will come out and walk you back to our cubes. 

Meet our Front Desk Student Assistants below!


Sai Mouna Bogireddy

Major: MS Software Engineering 

Hometown: Hyderabad, India

Fun fact about yourself?

I have an in-built dessert radar

What do you enjoy most about SJSU?

I enjoy the welcoming atmosphere and meeting people from diverse backgrounds.

What message do you have for our Global Spartan Community?

Stay positive and be kind!

Sarthak Chauhan

Major: BS Computer Science

Hometown: Delhi, India

What message do you have for our Global Spartan Community?

Welcome Global Spartans, I hope that you enjoy your time here at SJSU while elevating yourself through academics. Me and my team hope to see you at the future events.

Michelle Law

Major: BS Business Admin/International Business

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

Fun fact about yourself?

I can’t taste avocados 

What do you enjoy most about SJSU?

Meeting new friends and spending time by going to on campus events

What message do you have for our Global Spartan Community?

Live your college life to your fullest and try to travel and have as much fun as you can before you start work obligations

Priyanka Sharma

Major: MS Computer Engineering

Hometown: Amravati,India

Fun fact about yourself?

I really like music, and I can remember all the lyrics to songs. It’s like my brain is a super good music player!

What do you enjoy most about SJSU?

I particularly enjoy the vibrant and diverse community at SJSU. The mix of people with various backgrounds and perspectives creates a dynamic and enriching environment. Embracing this diversity enhances our learning experience, fostering collaboration and mutual understanding. It adds a unique and positive dimension to my time at SJSU.

What message do you have for our Global Spartan Community?

In India, there’s a saying: “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” meaning “The world is one family.” This idea aligns with the diverse community we have at SJSU. Let’s cherish our differences, recognizing that we’re all part of the same global Spartan family. Embracing this sentiment, let’s foster understanding and create a welcoming environment for everyone in our community.

Nick Shein

Major: BS Business MIS, 

Hometown: Myanmar

What message do you have for our Global Spartan Community?

Make a lot of new friends and connections! They are worth it, trust me!

Show & Movie Recommendations

The Global Connections theme this past Monday was about international shows and movies (because who doesn’t like to watch them?). Everyone had a lot of fun talking and sharing their favorite movies from both their home country and shows that they may have recently seen. Watching shows from diverse countries is a fun and great way to learn about other cultures and familiarize yourself with various languages! Below are some show & movie recommendations from fellow students at the Global Connections meeting, Global Leaders, and ISSS Staff members! Learn more about Global Connections here and join us next time!

Student Recommendations:

TV Series Movies
The Brother Sun (U.S) A Separation (Iran)
Samdal-ri (South Korea) Cook Up a Storm (Hong Kong, China)
Trapped [Indian Movie] (India)
KGF (India)


Global Leaders Recommendations:

TV Series Movies
Kingdom (South Korea) Meet Joe Black (U.S)
The Family Man (India) Rurouni Kenshin (Japan)
Atlanta (U.S) Captain Miller (India)
Athadu (India)


 ISSS Staff Recommendations:

TV Series Movies
Gilmore Girls (U.S) Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (U.S)
The Last of Us (U.S) Polite Society (U.K)
Letterkenny (Canada) Bend it Like Beckham (U.K)
Reservation Dogs (U.S) Elemental (U.S)


Thanksgiving: What it is and fun traditions to take a part in!

Various traditional Thanksgiving pies

Thanksgiving is a national U.S. holiday that is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Thanksgiving celebrates the fall harvest, giving thanks to what we have, and coming together with friends and family. There are many traditions and activities that people take part in during the Thanksgiving break and below are some ideas and events that you can take part in. 

Thanksgiving Dinner: Many families get together on Thanksgiving day to cook together during the day, many families also tend to start eating late afternoon in order to have room in their stomachs for all the delicious food! A traditional Thanksgiving dinner can include a roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, dinner rolls, corn pudding, mashed potatoes. For dessert pies are the go to: pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, and berry pies.


Friendsgivng: Since Thanksgiving is generally celebrated with family, Friendsgiving is a time to get together with friends for a Thanksgiving dinner. Generally this is more of a potluck gathering where each person will bring something to share with the group. 


American Football: Watching a football game while gathering with family and cooking is a big part of the day. There are 3 different games that are played throughout the day. It is tradition that the Detroit Lions host a game as well as the Dallas Cowboys host a game on Thanksgiving day. After each game, the winning team can be seen eating a part of the turkey to celebrate their win. This year the games are: Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions, Washington Commanders vs. Dallas Cowboys, and San Francisco 49ers vs. Seattle Seahawks.

 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: This parade is an annual parade in New York City that first took place in 1924. This is typically a 3 hour parade that is held in Manhattan and ends in front of the Macy’s Herald Square. There are many floats, giant balloons and performances.

Turkey Trot:  A Turkey Trot is a footrace that is usually a 5K and is held around Thanksgiving hence named this way. This is also a chance to give back to the local community as a way for many local charities to raise money, hold a canned food drive, or a toy collection. Many of the participants also dress up as turkeys during the race!

Giving Back: Thanksgiving is also the time to show appreciation and show kindness to others. Many people volunteer at soup kitchens, community centers or food banks that support their community and others. Many people also donate food, clothes and supplies and also volunteer to go grocery shopping for others who may not be able to. 

The Magical Thadingyut Festival of Myanmar

What is the Thadingyut Festival?

The Thadingyut Festival, also known as the Lighting Festival in Myanmar, is a cherished cultural and religious observance that takes place on the full moon day of the Burmese lunar month of Thadingyut. This festival is the second most popular festival in Myanmar/Burma after Thingyan which is Burmese Water Festival. This three-day festival marks the end of Buddhist Lent, a period of deep reflection and meditation for monks. Thadingyut Festival is a time when Myanmar truly comes alive. Streets, homes, and public buildings are adorned with colorful electric bulbs and candles, symbolizing the three stairways of the Buddha’s descent from Tāvatiṃsa Heaven after delivering the Abhidhamma teachings to his mother, Maya. Beyond the visual spectacle, Thadingyut carries deep spiritual meaning, celebrating the profound wisdom enshrined in the Buddha’s teachings. During these days, Buddhists pay their respects to monks and offer gifts at pagodas and monasteries. Young people express their gratitude to elders through thoughtful gifts and fruits, fostering a strong sense of unity and reverence within the community. Thadingyut Festival beautifully weaves together tradition, spirituality, and the warmth of familial bonds within the rich cultural fabric of Myanmar.

What do you do at the Thadingyut Festival?

During the Thadingyut Festival a vibrant tapestry of traditions and meaningful activities unfolds. The streets, homes, and public buildings across Myanmar are decorated with bright beautiful light bulbs and candles to symbolize the Buddha’s descent from Heaven. Most Buddhists visit pagodas and monasteries to pray and pay respects to monks and offer food. People would also host donations at monasteries to practice good deeds. Beyond the illuminating decorations, this is also a fun time for young people since fireworks are allowed during the 3 days. Many fireworks would be up in the sky at night to celebrate the festival. Similar to the red pocket for lunar new years, young people would also get pocket money for praying to their elders as a sign of respect. In essence, Thadingyut Festival unites tradition, spirituality, and community, making it a captivating and cherished event in Myanmar’s cultural calendar.

When is the Festival? 

The Thadingyut Festival, also known as the Lighting Festival, typically occurs during the full moon day of the Burmese lunar month of Thadingyut, which roughly corresponds to the month of October in the Gregorian calendar. This festival lasts for three days, including the day before the full moon day, the full moon day itself, and the day after. Here are the dates for the festival.

Written by Nick Shein