2023 Global Spartan Photo Contest Winners

Each spring, International Student & Scholar Services hosts the annual Global Spartan Photo Contest. Our goal is to share a variety of cultural perspectives through photography and short narratives. As such, each photo submission is accompanied by a short narrative that explains the cultural significance of the photo from the photographer’s perspective. Narratives answer the questions: What aspect of culture does this photo represent? and Why is this photograph important to me?

The Most Impactful Narrative and Top 10 Photos are selected by the Global Spartan Month Planning Committee. In-person voting is open to the general public at our annual Global Spartan Month Fair in March, followed by online voting via social media.  Once the voting period is over, the in-person and online votes are tallied to determine the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Place Fan Favorites.

Congratulations to this year’s winner and all of our Top 10 finalists! Thank you for submitting such outstanding photos and sharing your unique cultural perspectives with us!

Fan Favorite: 1st Place Winner

Aryan Sharma, B.S. Software Engineering

Indian Tattoo by Aryan Sharma. Henna (Mehndi) symbolizes the love and commitment between the bride and groom. It’s believed to bring good luck and blessings to the couple. It’s almost like a vintage heliograph that tells a story For her wedding my sister chose a design that symbolizes her culture. She chose Lord Raghunath, a local deity in our hometown. This picture is just a glimpse of how we can engrave our roots into our skin. (Photo taken in Punjab, India)

Fan Favorite: 2nd Place

Pavan Karthik Gollakaram, MS Computer Software Engineering

Weather and Feelings by Karthik Gollakaram. Comparing 1.2 million square miles of a country (India) to 164K square miles of a state (California) where I can experience every possible weather, reminded me of a quote: “It’s no secret that our hearts are connected to the sky. A sunny sky can make us happy, cloudy weather may make us desolate, and a clear blue sky fills our hearts with love and hope.” Reminding that you can find a second home. (Photo taken at Yosemite Hanging Bridge, CA)

Fan Favorite: 3rd Place & Most Impactful Narrative Winner

Aryan Sharma, BS Software Engineering

Butterfly Ballet by Aryan Sharma. Growing up in Himachal, I witnessed an abundance of flora and fauna, including fragrant dahlia blossoms and beautiful migratory butterflies. These stunning creatures would flutter about on spring nights, putting on a performance for the fortunate few who caught a glimpse. This tree I encountered near campus mirrors those butterflies and I await every spring for it to blossom to relive my past. (Photo taken in San Jose, CA)

2023 Finalists

Viridiana Galvez Garcia, BS Accounting

A Dream Come True by Viridiana Galvez Garcia. The Sagrada Familia is recognized for being among the most iconic representations of Antoni Gaudi’s distinctive style, combining elements of Late Gothic architecture, and Catalan Modernism.This photograph represents a dream come true. This is the product of pure talent, dedication, and creativity. It is very interesting to know that every single detail of it has its own story to tell. (Photo taken in Barcelona, Spain)

Jeet Parekh, MS Data Analytics

The Boho Husky: A dreamy haven in the heart of the café by Jeet Parekh. As you push the door, an enchanting world unfolds. Boho macrame vines entice you to stay, while a rustic bookshelf holds stories untold. The husky snoozes soundly, his presence like gold. The cozy ambiance offers refuge to the world-weary. The husky’s slumber is like a hearth in winter, a touch of life in a dreamy landscape. Step in and lose yourself in this masterpiece, forever fawned. (Photo taken in Gandhinagar, GJ, India)

Chelsea Nguyen, BS Business Marketing

Immersing into South Korea’s Beautiful Culture by Chelsea Nguyen. This photo represents South Korea’s traditional clothes called Hanbok. Long ago, the material of the Hanbok you wear represented where you were in the social hierarchy. Now, It is worn during special occasions and holidays! Studying abroad in South Korea was an eye-opening experience and I wanted to appreciate their culture and learn more about their history by walking through the palace! (Photo taken at Gyeongbokgung Palace, South Korea)

Tanya Kothiyal, MS Engineering Management

The 1000 Steps of Devotion by Tanya Kothiyal. Named after the goddess Chamundi, the Chamundeshwari Temple sits atop a mountain hill at Mysore, India. This hill features an ancient stone stairway of 1,008 steps leading to its summit. Every time I visit home, I witness devotees lighting lamps on these steps as an act of devotion to the goddess. At every step, I see people bow their heads before proceeding to next, a culture that is still alive. (Photo taken in Mysore, Kamataka, India)

Pavan Karthik Gollakaram, MS Computer Software Engineering

A Ferry Wheel that Unites by Pavan Karthik Gollakaram. Visiting the Santa Monica pier made me realize how alike humans are, no matter how distinct the cultures are (Indian and the USA in my case). Excited, scared, happy is how everyone feels in the same order before, during, and after the ferry wheel ride. Made me wonder how kids to senior citizens feel the same way about natural and man-made wonders across the continents but have different cultures. (Photo taken at Santa Monica Pier, CA)

Mahtab Jafary, BA English

In the Grand Scheme of Things by Mahtab Jafary. This photo is something I will cherish because it captures the first time I was able to visit a piece of what I have been studying for years. The grand paintings that reside in this museum were breathtaking. I’ve been looking at these paintings for so long and to see how large scale they were was such a surreal feeling. Seeing these paintings up close felt as if I was standing alone in awe. (Photo taken at the Louvre Museum, Paris, France)

Yukta Prashant Mehta, MS Data Analytics

Live to Ride by Yukta Prashant Mehta. This photo was taken while traveling to Gujrat for trekking. This kind of rides called riksha are used in Gujrat for commuting. The man customized his riksha is way that amazed me the most. He named is his riksha as “dikri” which means the loving daughter in Gujrati. (Photo taken in Gujrat, India)

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