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Views of Japan Take Some Top Prizes at Vassar’s International Photo Contest

Shuri Oshiro ’22 says she probably takes fewer photographs than most of her peers, but when she sees an image worth capturing – at the beach or nearly two-and-a-half miles above sea level – she seizes the opportunity to do so.

Oshiro’s winning photo in the People’s Choice category: “A Day in Okinawa.”

This year two of Oshiro’s photographs, one depicting some friends frolicking in the Pacific Ocean in her home community of Okinawa and the other at the top of Mount Fuji, earned her two of the top prizes in Vassar’s annual International Photo Contest. 

Shuri Oshiro ’22

“I’m interested in artistic things in general, but I don’t have any training in photography and I don’t take photos very often,” Oshiro says. “But these two had special significance for me.” 

Oshiro won first prize, a $25 gift card from a local restaurant, Twisted Soul, in the People’s Choice category for a photo she titled, “A Day in Okinawa,” which shows five of her high school friends swimming in the ocean near her home. “If you look closely, you’ll notice everyone is wearing regular clothes, not bathing suits,” she says. “That’s very typical of Okinawans.”

The photo that earned Oshiro third place, titled “12,388 feet,” was taken at the summit of Mount Fuji. “Mount Fuji has been a sacred place for Japanese people for centuries,” she says. “It’s a big part of our culture.”

Other Winning Photos

The annual contest, launched in 2005 by the Office of International Services, is open to anyone in the Vassar community. The only criterion: the photo must depict a scene outside the United States. Andrew Meade, Director of International Services and Assistant Dean of Student Growth and Engagement, said the contest was conceived as a way to publicize the office when it was formed in 2005. “We were looking for ways to advertise what our international students do, and right off the bat we got more than 200 entries,” Meade says.

The original contest was open only to international students, Meade says, but since it was expanded to include all students, staff and alumnae/i, annual entries have swelled to more than 400. The next International Photo Contest will be held this fall, and winners will be announced at Kaleidoscope, an annual cultural festival sponsored by the Office of International Services and organized by Vassar’s international students.