Current Students / News

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 NWCCI photo contest!

NWCCI is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 NWCCI Photo Contest! Out of the many creative and high quality submissions from CCI students at all three of the program’s community college campuses, judges selected 1st and 2nd place winners from each of the two contest theme categories: #NWCCIinspire and #ExchangesAre, and an additional People’s Choice Award was selected as a special, exemplary photo of what it means to be in the NWCCI program.


  • 1st place: Latif Abdul – “A youth of the past in the mirror of the future”
  • 2nd Place: Ali Ahmed –  “Jumping”


  • 1st place: Sadia Bano – “Rich culture”
  • 2nd place: Latif Abdul – “Memories never die”

People’s Choice Award 

  • Eshra Hassan – “A cup of tea”



The #ExchangesAre category prompted participants to share a photo of something that captures what it means to be a part of a Department of State sponsored exchange program. The prize for the #ExchangesAre category goes to “A youth of the past in the mirror of the future,” a photo by Latif Abdul from Pakistan, of one of his fellow CCI participants, from Yemen, contemplating his future in the sunset, in Bellingham where he is currently studying.  “He came to the US [on the] 9th of September, 2014 [with the] “YES” program. But unfortunately he cannot go back Yemen because of the war in Yemen,” he explains.

“Sometimes he calls his family on Skype and I can hear his emotions about his family.” Latif goes on to explain, “He always busies himself with his studies and education […]. I’m really curious about my friend, I do not know about his future because Yemen still in a war and he cannot go back.”

Embarking on an exchange program in the United States is a great adventure, and also requires the sacrifices of leaving home, family, friends and the world that participants are accustomed to, behind. But with each new day, participants soon find positive new experiences and new challenges in the Department of State’s Community College Initiative program, as Latif’s photo so beautifully captures.



The prize for this category goes to Sadia Bano for her photo, “Rich Culture.” The photo captures her fellow NWCCI participant Amanda Nohamba, from South Africa, displaying her colorful and full-hearted approach to life. “Never judge people from their physical appearance,” Sadia explains. “Meeting with my NWCCI friends has changed my life perspective. I think, in a broader way. [She has] one of my favorite personalities and as my friend, I learned a lot from her. She is an inspirational girl figure, [I appreciate] the way she thinks, and her approach towards her life.” One of the most positive ripple effects of the Northwest Community College Initiative is its ability to promote tolerance of all diversity, and not only sharing a diverse American culture with its participants, but of the students from the 11 other countries of their fellow participants.  The #NWCCIinspire category inspired students to capture what inspires them to improve their community, their world and to spread cultural diversity, understanding and awareness and to enact change and to create a better world for tomorrow.

2nd Place in #ExchangesAre


The second place prize for this category goes to Ali Ahmed for his photo, “Jumping.” The photo exhibits a great moment when two NWCCI students are jumping, in Bellingham, Washington. Embarking on a cultural exchange program is itself a great leap of faith into the unknown, and perhaps even more so for this student from Yemen. He left home two years ago for a cultural exchange in high school on the Department of State’s YES youth exchange program, and hasn’t been able to return home because of the civil war in his home country of Yemen. Ali has made it a goal to make the most of his time in the U.S. He explains that #ExchangesAre “not all about reading and doing homework.” As a CCI [participant], I learned how to get the best out of [life] with the support of friends and community. Today, I feel proud that I can jump higher to reach success with my friends.”

Ali, on the left, and Gladys Annor from Ghana, are both studying at Whatcom Community College as part of their cultural exchange with the Northwest Community College Initiative.

2nd Place in #NWCCIinspire

NWCCI5_ExchangesAreThe 2nd prize for this category goes to Latif Abdul for his photo, “Memories never die.” The photo portrays a couple overlooking the bay in Bellingham, Washington. “This picture is of an elderly couple, over 70,” Latif explains. “They are seated and watching the sunset while talking about their memories. This picture made me cry because when I saw this couple, I remembered my parents. Somehow I feel glad to see that they are able to get together and share their love for each other. But after I captured this picture, I remembered that my parents are living far away from each other since I was 18 years old, even though they love each other so much. They live so far apart because of our future.”

One of the  NWCCI’s greatest program features is its ability to help participants share their stories and their journeys. Many participants apply to the program numerous times for their once in a lifetime opportunity to study in America.

“We are seven siblings […] and we [were] all living in Dubai,” Latif explains. “My father worked as a police officer in Dubai, but he still has his still Pakistani nationality. My parents are uneducated, but they made a dream for us; they want their children to be educated. But my father could not afford our education in Dubai, so they decided to send us to Pakistan with my mom. In Pakistan our study was affordable for my father. Now my 3 brothers and 3 sisters have graduated and my younger brother studies in China. My father came to Pakistan every 2 years to see us. They love each other, but they sacrificed being together for our future,” he explains. Access to quality education in many of the CCI participants’ home countries is nonexistent, expensive, or hard to come by.

People’s Choice


The People’s Choice prize goes to Eshra Hassan for her photo, “Cup of tea,” showing two NWCCI participants at Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington. In the photo, Sadia Bano from Pakistan shares a cup of tea with Amanda Nohamba, from South Africa, during a cultural outing at Pierce College. “Sharing one’s cultures and traditions is one of the key parts of this cultural exchange program. It holds us together, in-spite of our differences. There is no better way to share your culture with a friend; from another part of the world; than over a cup of tea under the sweet spring sun,” she explains. For many of the participants in the CCI program, the trip to the U.S. is not only their first time on an airplane, but also their first time out of their home country and first experience with people from other countries.

US Dept of StateThe opinions expressed in this blog by writers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Northwest Community College Initiative program, Edmonds Community College, Whatcom Community College, Pierce College, or the United States Department of State or any employee thereof. NWCCI and Edmonds Community College are not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the student bloggers. Student bloggers and photographers have granted us permission to publish their articles and images but they remain the copyright holders.


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