Please note: This competition has now closed. We will be reviewing submissions and plan to announce finalists in January. Thank you for your interest!

You’ve learned new languages, packed all of your worldly belongings into two suitcases, and navigated a different culture.  You’ve represented your country abroad and continue that engagement now that you are back home.  You are a citizen diplomat! 

This fall, as we celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange during International Education Week, we challenge you to share your exchange experience and inspire your fellow Americans to go abroad.  Take part in the U.S. Department of State’s Citizen Diplomacy Challenge by sending us the most inspiring photos from your exchange!  From bonding with your host siblings in Turkey to teaching middle schoolers in South Korea, we want to see the moments that best illustrate the benefits of international exchange. 


One grand-prize winner and 20 runner-up photos will be printed and displayed at a first-of-its-kind exhibit at the United States Diplomacy Center.  The Center is the world’s first museum dedicated to telling the story of the Department of State and U.S. diplomats, including citizen diplomats. The photos will be displayed along with title, caption, and a short biography of the submitter and their exchange program details.  The grand prize winner will receive a 2-day all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C. to be honored at an official awards ceremony at the U.S. Department of State, and will be invited to share their exchange experience with senior State Department officials and attendees of the exhibition.    

Winning photos will also be printed in a book which will be distributed to senior Department of State officials and sent to each winner and runner-up. 

How to Participate:

Submit an original photo taken during your U.S. government-sponsored exchange program that you think best showcases the value of international exchange.  All photos must include a title and a brief caption in English (2 -3 sentences) that explains how the photo illustrates a concrete benefit of international exchange programs.   Photos that include exchange participants within the frame and action shots that show engagement with the local culture are strongly preferred. 

The challenge opens on Wednesday, November 1, 2017 and closes at 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, November 19.  Facebook voting on finalist photos will take place between November 29 and December 13.

Judging Criteria:

Elements to consider when selecting your photo:

1.     Effectiveness: Does your photo and the accompanying caption clearly illustrate a benefit of international exchange programs? An effective photo will feature one or more exchange participants in the frame, involve subjects in action, and show engagement with the local culture or community.

2.     Originality: Is your photo original, fresh, or inventive?

3.     Creativity: How imaginative is your photo? A creative photo breaks from traditional methods of presenting ideas and messages. For example, is the photo taken from an unexpected angle or focus on a detail that is usually ignored? Avoid simple snapshots of groups of people or buildings.

4.     Photo Quality: Is your photo aesthetically pleasing? A high quality photo is well-composed and has a clear focal point. It should not be blurry, too dark or too light.

**All photos must meet the following specifications:

  • 200-300 dpi/ppi in .JPEG, .jpg, or .png format.
  • Images that have been retouched using software or by other means will be accepted. Retouched photography using a camera app or photo editing app is also accepted.
  • Both color and monochrome images will be accepted.

Photo Submission:

Alumni may submit no more than two photos for consideration. All photos must include a title and a short (1 – 3 sentence) caption which describes the photo and illustrates a concrete benefit of international exchange programs.

There are two steps to enter this challenge:

1.     First, simply upload the photo to your personal Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account with the description, tag @ExchangeAlumni (or @ExchangeOurWorld on Instagram), and include the hashtags #CitizenDiplomacy and #IEW2017. Submissions should be posted on public accounts where possible.

2.     Next, complete the simple submission form below.

**Note: Both steps must be completed by the end of the competition on November 19 to be eligible for prizes.  


For questions, please visit our Commonly Asked Questions; or e-mail