2022 saw the return of a popular Kennedy Center event: the International Study Programs Film Festival.
This competition invites students who've been on a study abroad or other international study program in the last academic year to submit a short video (one minute or less) based around an assigned theme. The winners receive cash prizes, and the winning videos are posted online and used for promoting international study programs.
The film festival has been happening for a decade, though it has occasionally gone on hiatus. The idea originated with International Study Programs coordinator Aaron Rose and former Kennedy Center director Jeff Ringer. "We talked about the need for students to tell their study abroad stories in a public place, where they could be documented and listened to," says Rose. "The purpose of the film festival is to create a library of stories about the experiences students have, and to reward students for their creative work."
This year marks the first time the competition has been held since before the pandemic. The many entries reflect the enthusiasm for international study that BYU students have displayed after two years with few opportunities to go abroad due to travel restrictions. This year's theme was "If you don't go, you'll never know." Dozens of entries from programs around the globe were submitted, with the winners announced and screened at the film festival on 15 November; these winners are now posted on our BYU Stories Abroad YouTube channel.
The 2022 winners are as follows:
1st place winner: Ben Dorrough, "We Have Two Lives"
2nd place winner: Jordan Chou, "Becoming a Storyteller"
3rd place winner: Alexa Nguyen, "I Didn’t Know"
Honorable mentions went to Audrey Hill, Madeleine Crawford, Ellie Thacker, Hyein Jee, Ethan Taylor, Morgan Topham, Esther Erickson, and Zachary Benson. The top videos can be viewed on the YouTube channel.
Rose sees the film festival as a way for students to reflect on what they've learned and experienced. "We hope they have an experience that fosters thoughtfulness and inquiry, and brings them closer to Christ and others," he says. Another advantage, he says, is that "it is a creative way for them to curate an 'elevator speech.' If they had to tell someone what they learned on study abroad, could they do it in 60 seconds?"
Inspiring others to seek out their own international experiences is the ultimate goal of the festival, says Rose. "The films are used on social media and the web to inspire other students to have similar experiences on international study programs and craft their own stories."