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Photo contest showcases Emory students' work around the world

With images that capture experiences from around the globe, the Master’s of Development Practice (MDP) photo contest encourages Emory students to view their summer fieldwork in support of communities in developing countries through a uniquely personal lens.

And winners of this year’s contest do just that, with photographs that are vibrant, introspective and thought-provoking. The photos highlight field practicum work on issues such as public health, environmental conservation and women’s empowerment being conducted by Emory students in locations that range from Guatemala to Bangladesh, the Philippines to Sierra Leone.

Sponsored by the Laney Graduate School, the photo contest allows MDP students to share their experiences and demonstrate the breadth of their field practicums through photography, says Carla Roncoli, director of graduate studies for the MDP program, who coordinates the MDP Photo Contest Selection Committee.

Winners of the sixth annual MDP photo contest were announced during a recent reception.

Out of nearly 400 entries, awards were presented for first, second and third place in two categories: “My Vantage Point,” which depicts people, places and events that students encounter during their field work, and “Our Field Experience,” which demonstrates students engaged in their field experience. An “Audience Choice” winner was also chosen during the reception.

Learning by doing

The Emory MDP is a professional degree program offered by Laney Graduate School for students interested in the work of humanitarian and relief organizations, combining rigorous coursework with extensive, hands-on fieldwork. International field practicums, which are conducted over two summers, “are probably the centerpiece of the program," Roncoli explains.

“That’s where they actually get to experience what it’s like to be a development practitioner in real life working with real organizations — a critical piece of our program,” she says. “We decided to establish this photo contest because it showcases the variety of work our students are doing in a wide range of places.”

Last summer, Emory’s MDP program placed students in 26 countries around the globe for work with 22 humanitarian and aid organizations, Roncoli says.

“The work they do, the skills they practice, the places and people they serve are quite exceptional,” she says.

The photo contest serves as “a communication tool as well as a learning tool,” Roncoli says. “Our program strives to respect local people as partners in development, along with their capacity, resilience, innovation, creativity and resourcefulness.”

“Those are the kinds of photos that we’re looking for,” she adds. “Images of people that are respectful, dignified and empowering, landscapes and the richness of diversity that we hope our students will help preserve and protect.”

Photo entries this year were judged by professional photographers, development practitioners and communications professionals.

The MDP program was established at Emory’s Laney Graduate School seven years ago through a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Today, it is part of a network of about 30 such programs around the world that adhere to a similar set of principles, that include training in interdisciplinary approaches and the bridging of theory and practice, Roncoli says.

The majority of MDP alumni have gone on to work with development issues for major non-profit organizations around the world, along with federal agencies and health services, and research and policy organizations.

“Our students are doing incredible things,” Roncoli says. “They’re really at the forefront of international development work.”

Contest winners:

My Vantage Point

  • First place: Ruofei Chen, who worked in Nicaragua with a Global Health Institute team focused on respiratory health
  • Second place (tie): Melanie Aleman, who worked with the Rainforest Alliance in Guatemala
  • Second place (tie): Helena Worrall, who worked in Bangladesh and India with CARE Pathways, a women’s empowerment and livelihood security program
  • Third place: Katherine Hiebert, who worked for Heifer International on an evaluation of a Community Agro-Veterinary Entrepreneur (CAVE) program in the Philippines

Our Field Experience

  • First place: Gabriela Artasanchez Garcia, who worked in Bangladesh with CARE Pathways on a participatory tool called PCMA (Pre-crisis Market Analysis)
  • Second place: Sumon Ray, who conducted research for Habitat for Humanity International on their disaster response and recovery program in the Philippines 
  • Third place (tie): Helena Worrall, who worked in Bangladesh and India with CARE Pathways, a women’s empowerment and livelihood security program
  • Third place (tie): Danielle Veal, who worked with World Vision International in Sierra Leone on an evaluation of The Grandmother Project  

Audience Choice

  • Billy Rice, who worked with the Tibetan Village Project in Tibet on a cultural tourism enterprise

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