STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 04/13/2016

What They Saw

Each year Gordon’s Global Education Office sponsors a photo contest for students in its many study-abroad programs. The 2015 theme was “Beauty in the Midst of Adversity.” Here are the top three entries, with excerpts from the students’ reflections. We recommend viewing all the entries and the photographers’ full reflections at

First place 
Mackenzie Sains ’16 | “Santonpin Church” | Santonpin, Thailand

“This photo shows the remains of a church in Santonpin, in northern Thailand. The church body was very present in the village, and I was able to help and experience the community coming together to demolish the church building in preparation for a new building. Even though my experience in the community was positive, there was brokenness amidst the people. Alcoholism, abuse and broken relationships underlie the beauty of this village that I learned to call home. Yet despite all of the brokenness and destruction—Jesus was still there. This image manifests the victory of Christ, the broken made beautiful under the shadow of the cross.”

Second place
Kaira Colman ’16 | “Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo” | Buenos Aires, Argentina

“These are some of the most beautiful and courageous women in Argentina. They are known as ‘Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo’—in other words, revolutionaries against the military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983. During this time Argentina experienced some of its darkest moments: moments of terror and torture, of control and confusion of pure evil and oppression, and of not knowing whether you or a loved one would return home. These women are not only mothers who lost a child or family member to the dictatorship, but heroic women who stood against these horrid acts, marching day after day around the Plaza de Mayo.”

Third place
Charlie Mitchell ’16 | “Cheung Chau Island” | Hong Kong

“This is Cheung Chau Island. It is dirty; it is jarring: a sight that evokes sadness, poverty, commotion, and adversity. Yet the water looks so crisp and still,and the adversity can appear so calm. This paradox is beautiful. It tells stories, giving us insight into another culture: its people, its history, and its everyda life. That C703566 boat belongs to somebody, maybe a man who fishes to make a living. Somebody’s clothing is washed in that water. Superficially beautiful things rarely ever reveal this kind of meaning. That is why we visit run-down historical sites and why Cheung Chau Island is such a popular tourist attraction.”