Northeastern’s global opportunities offer students the rare chance not just to travel the world, but to make a difference in it. The depth of those experiences—working, serving, and living abroad—also gives them a chance to see the world from new perspectives, a skill essential for understanding and solving the economic, social, and scientific challenges of our time. These three photos, and the stories behind them, underscore the sometimes intangible power of those eye-opening moments.

Labrang Monastery, Tibet
Devin Cowick, SSH’14
International Affairs
Study abroad, Beijing, China

S14_FOB_PhotoSpread_Devin-Cowick“I was studying Chinese language and culture in Beijing, where I learned a great deal about what it means to live in a closed society. The extent of tight government control became clear when I noticed a camera on the ceiling of one of my classrooms, used to monitor class discussions. Learning to survive in an unfamiliar setting has made me more self-confident, adaptable, and sensitive to cultural differences.”

Photo: “I took this photo while on a weeklong field study trip to Tibet that included a visit to the Labrang Monastery. It captures one of the young monks-in-training having some fun riding a skateboard while eating an ice cream cone. I like the fact that it captures a different side of life in the monastery. Monks don’t just meditate and pray all day—they like to have fun, too.”

Fez, Morocco
Sara Gormley, SSH’15
Political Science
and International Affairs
Dialogue of Civilizations, Morocco

S14_FOB_Dialogue-Morocco_SaraGormley“Our task was to engage with the culture and people of Morocco by focusing on economic development, colonialism, and gender studies.”

Photo: “I took this picture while in a small souk, or market, where a man was selling silk scarves, tying each one differently based on styles that originated in various regions of Morocco. The photo captures one of the most expressive parts of a Muslim woman: her eyes. She is able to take pride in her culture and religion by wearing this headscarf, while still retaining her independent beauty and expression.”

Cape Town, South Africa
Emily Chiappinelli, SSH’14
Environmental Studies and International Affairs
Co-op with Heart Capital

S14_FOB_PhotoSpread_Emily-Chiappinelli“I was working on a social enterprise project in Cape Town that involved the renovation of a local restaurant in one of the townships. I was struck by how willing people were to talk in depth about racial dynamics. Their honesty, curiosity, and openness about race were something I was not expecting. It made me much more comfortable engaging in conversations that I used to think were taboo. I developed a deep confidence in my ability to handle unfamiliarity—whether it be a new task, a new place and people, or the general unknown.”

Photo: “As part of the kickoff marketing campaign, we wrote the name of the restaurant, Sibanye, on the beach with candles placed in paper bags, then waited for the sun to set to see the full name illuminated. It was such a memorable moment, and the photo captured the surrounding landscape.”