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A colorful truck drives on a rural road through the Pakistan mountains

Photo Contest

Have you ever done something that made you feel apprehensive or nervous? Every growth is sparked by a moment of discomfort. If you’re traveling or even being a tourist in your hometown, you will experience at least one form of discomfort, whether that be traveling for the first time, experiencing new foods, or immersing yourself in a whole new culture… all of these moments of growth push you to fully immerse and connected to the area around you.

The Fall 2020 International Photo Contest is a platform for current students to submit photos they have taken that they believe best represents a moment of “seeking discomfort.” This contest is held each semester, and prizes are awarded to the winners, which are voted on by a panel of judges. The top 10 entries are displayed in the International House Community Room for the duration of the semester and the top three photographers receive a gift card! Photo submissions will follow the theme of “seeking discomfort” through submission of a picture that depicts a moment where you sought discomfort in order to connect more deeply with the unique qualities of the culture around you.


Entry Requirements

  1. Entrants must be a current student at the University of Tennessee.
  2. You can only submit one photo in total. The photo must relate to the theme, “Seeking Discomfort”. Photos can be taken in any country.
  3. Photo must be taken by student. (no professional photos accepted).
  4. Photo must be original work and student should have the authority to release photo for International House.
  5. Photo must be high quality—3200 x 4200.

The International House determines eligibility of entries and reserves the right to refuse submission.


All contestants are invited to a Photo Exhibition at the International House at which winners will be announced. The top 10 finalists’ photos will be on exhibit in the International House, and all entries will be on exhibit through an electronic screen.

The first place winner will win a $75 gift card. The second place winner will receive a $50 gift card, and the third place winner will receive a $25 gift card. All top 10 photos will receive a certificate.

Photo Exhibition: November 10th, 2020 at 4pm at the International House.

The submission period for this contest will begin on September 18th, 2020, and END AT 3:00 PM on October 30th, 2020. If you have any questions about your submission, please contact



#1 Birdman on Rainier

Shiv Amin

Mt. Rainier, Washington

The photo in itself caused great discomfort. To get to the lake I ended up wading through a small river with my socks on, which almost gave me frostbite, then had to hike with those wet socks about a mile in snow because the roads were closed to cars. I was also really hungry at this point, but to get the picture I had to give part of my sandwich to the birds which also caused great discomfort. I believe the picture shows a type of connection to the culture of the Pacific Northwest known for its outdoors and wildlife.

#2 On the Brink of Wonder

Natalie Campbell

Gressier, Haiti

I see this photo not through the lens of my own discomfort, but through the curiosity of the young girl I captured. As she peered over the stone wall barely tall enough to see, I felt her own desires for more and could sense the wonder and enchantment the unknown brings to a young girl.

#3 Finding Peace in Feeling Small

Georgia Morris

Geirangerfjord, Norway

Feeling small; a phrase with many different meanings. Is it feeling short next to a tall person? Is it feeling like you are young again? Or is it a much deeper feeling? Is it feeling like you are not enough? Feeling insignificant in this huge world we live in? This feeling is different for everyone and can be somewhat discomforting depending on how you view life.
I am sure you have seen those videos that begin with Earth and start zooming out…and zooming out… and zooming out for trillions of lightyears. Videos like that make you feel very small when you see your size compared to the other planets, the sun, the galaxies, and beyond. To some, this feeling of being small is very discomforting. Some people find their comfort in the meaning of life, or the significance of ‘being’, and when you think about how small you really are, it makes you wonder what that significance even is. Perhaps feeling as if you have no purpose in life is the most discomforting thing of all. Visiting a place like the Geirangerfjord in Norway, prompts that feeling. The landscape does not do this intentionally, however, standing at the mouth of the fjord, halfway up the mountain road I had been driving on for the last three days, I just felt so small, and my problems, so insignificant. It was discomforting. I had never seen something so vast before. I looked down upon the water and scanned the cruise ships full of thousands of tourists around the world, coming to see the same views I am soaking in. Simultaneously, everyone had begun to feel the same thing. Perhaps other people found comfort in this moment, however I felt discomfort. As I looked across the sky for miles and miles ahead, it triggered the same feeling as watching those videos mentioned above, but this time it was so much more real and tangible. I was firmly planted on the side of one of Norway’s most famous fjords, soaking in the culture of the country, and questioning how I got here. As a small-town girl from Tennessee, somehow, I made my way to the northern side of Scandinavia, crossing paths with numerous people living completely different walks of life. This was a first-time experience for me and seeking that type of discomfort has helped me grow as a person. I felt peace in my smallness. When we can accept how small we are in this world, it allows us to be opened up to the differences in those around us. Perhaps this is a form of discomfort we should all seek to feel. Feeling small is scary, but definitely encourages learning about the life experienced by others around you.

#4 Iceland: The Land of Extremes

Samantha Pritchett


This photograph was of my tour guide when I was hiking on a glacier in Iceland. It was an incredible experience, but also physically challenging and out of my comfort zone. This photo for me summed up the culture of Iceland into the land of extremes with people who live with the land.

#5 Unbent, Unbowed, Unbroken

Ekramul Haque Ehite

Shankhari Bazaar, Dhaka, Bangladesh

This photo was taken in Old Dhaka, Bangladesh, at Midnight on Dec. 16, 2013. Bangladesh became an independent nation on Dec. 16, 1971, after a bitter nine-month war. Thus, this day is celebrated enthusiastically as Victory day across the country every year. Especially, the Victory day celebration in the old parts of the capital city of Dhaka is legendary. Growing up in a remote town far away from the capital, the stories of the Old Dhaka rooftop parties with fireworks and midnight processions with fire-breathing enamored me. However, we were forbidden as children to attend these festivities because of the fire hazard and the gathering of huge crowds in tiny enclaves. In fact, as a person who is not a big fan of fire and large crowds, I probably never realized the inner meaning behind such vivacious celebrations. However, when I finally got to experience this tradition in the flesh on Shankhari Bazaar (a traditional neighborhood which was one of the worst affected during the 1971 liberation war), it all became clear to me. I was so close to the fire that I could feel my eyes smoking up, but I could not take my eyes off the sight of the flag of Bangladesh juxtaposed with a backdrop of fire and flames. Nor could I stop joining the crowd in spontaneously screaming “Joi Bangla” (meaning “Victory to Bengal,” a slogan that inspired the Bangladeshi freedom fighters in 1971). The fluttering of our beloved Red and Green flag against the conflagration represented the fortitude of our nation against all oppression and tyranny. Standing on that cold winter night with a cheering crowd, I suddenly realized why millions of youth my age left their comfortable lives in the cities and villages and joined the allied forces to liberate our country. As a famous Bangladeshi patriotic song goes, the world looked on with wonder as Bangladesh burned and sang but never bowed its head. Unbent, unbowed, unbroken.

#6 Happy Wife, Happy Life

Syed Muhammad Aqib

Knoxville, Tennessee

We visited Pakistan, our home country, in December 2019 for a short span of three weeks to get married. Our wedding was not as grand and memorable as we had dreamed in the months leading up to it, due to the limited time that we had to make all arrangements and make the wedding happen. We could not celebrate our love for each other during the most significant event of our lives.
After coming back to the US in January 2020, I went to Oklahoma (my previous school) just after two days of our arrival. On February 14th, it was the first time after our wedding I was visiting my wife. I was feeling extremely happy and a tad nervous because she told me that we are recreating our wedding day, by celebrating the way we wanted. She told me to wear the same dress that I wore on our wedding day. I drove for 13 hours straight from Oklahoma to Knoxville. Nervous, and tired, I entered the room, and there she was, in her beautiful and gorgeous dress which was quite heavy to be handled by a single person (back home we used to have helpers to carry her dress). We both were feeling nervous and although her dress was too heavy to handle for her, we wanted to create this memory. So, I took this picture of her with the dreamy decor that she had been working on for weeks.

#7 #AllTheWayUp #CountryLife #Serenity

Vikesh Desai

Gatlinburg SkyLift, Tennessee

The discomfort here was the riding of the SkyLift on the way to the SkyBridge. This photo was taken when going down the lift. Not really scared of heights, but definitely scared of sitting on something that’s hanging freely on a single line! I saw everybody was enjoying the moment when I was going up the lift while I was trying to hang on to dear life! Then I realized it’s really not up to me if something went wrong! So on the way back, just soaked in this beautiful view and managed to take a photo. Plus, it was on the birth date, so made me feel even more special!

#8 Camels in Jerusalem

Lacey Holden


I stepped out of my comfort zone and went on a student leadership trip by myself to the Middle East. I was able to learn so much about Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian culture while traveling.

#9 Atomic Bomb Dome

Yasheka Robinson

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima, Japan

As an African-American that recently moved to Japan for work, I was astounded by this image as many sites were destroyed in the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima. Japan is a country where I naturally stood out and the devastation and emotion at the site made the discomfort palpable. It was more than being African-American but being American and the privilege we demonstrate in other countries. However, acknowledging history and how this history may impact my engagement in the local area was a place for reflection, humility, understanding and patience.

#10 Reached the Edge, but Kept Going

Jacob Hale

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

It wasn’t me specifically seeking discomfort, but picturing those out on an adventure, going deep into the unknown. This photo was taken by my grandparents’ house, in a place so foreign to me yet I can still call home. When I’m there I transform from a Tennessean city boy to a beach going Floridian, meet new people, dive deep into the local culture, and walk out into the unknown.