Study abroad garners student 1st place in photo contest, life-changing experience


Photo of an intersection in Kyrgyzstan with traffic and brighlty lit buildings.

A photo ASU student Andrew Dumenigo took of the intersection of Chuy (Avenue) and Shopokov Street in Kyrgyzstan won him first place in the economics category of the School of Politics and Global Studies 2023 photo contest. Photo by Andrew Dumenigo

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The enjoyment of traveling and the feeling of adventure it brings are things Andrew Dumenigo has known since childhood, when his father’s position in the military meant he was often moving around the country and the world. So when it came time for college, study abroad was a no-brainer.

Last summer, Dumenigo, a student at Arizona State University’s School of Politics and Global Studies, traveled to Kyrgyzstan through the Critical Languages Institute (CLI), offered by the Melikian Center for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies at ASU.

“Studying abroad just made sense for me, especially with learning another language,” said Dumenigo, who chose to study in Kyrgyzstan while pursuing a Russian minor with his global studies degree. (He had initially wanted to study abroad in Russia, but as a result of the conflict with Ukraine, he was unable to.)

While in Kyrgyzstan, Dumenigo indulged his passion for photography, capturing images of life in the country, including two that won him first place in the School of Politics and Global Studies 2023 photo contest in two different categories: economics and environment.

“The intersection of Chuy (Avenue) and Shopokov Street is like the Times Square of Kyrgyzstan,” Dumenigo said of the setting for the photo that won him first place in the economics category. He described nights spent with friends in the area, getting dinner and observing the frenetic energy of people rushing around the shopping mall, meeting for ice cream, watching street performers and basking in the glow of massive jumbotrons displaying advertisements.

Scenic photo of a waterfall surrounded by green landscape.

A long-exposure photo ASU student Andrew Dumenigo took of a waterfall in Barskoon, a quiet village near Lake Issyk-Kul, won him first place in the environment category of the School of Politics and Global Studies 2023 photo contest. Photo by Andrew Dumenigo

The photo that won him first place in the environment category was a long-exposure photo taken in Barskoon, a quiet village near Lake Issyk-Kul.

Dumenigo first became interested in photography through his fascination with architecture in middle school, which he moved on from, becoming more interested in making documentaries about places like Kyrgyzstan.

“I no longer wanted to be an architect, but I was still taking pictures of architecture and expanding into other things like car photography and natural landscapes,” he said. “I have filmed and photographed so many different subjects, but perhaps my biggest interest is telling stories through this medium. I hope to make real documentaries one day in places like Kyrgyzstan and beyond.”

Dumenigo says that his CLI experience not only helped encourage that goal, but led to him making lifelong friends.

“My CLI experience must be one of the most unique and wholesome experiences out there. And that is all attributed to the people I met in Kyrgyzstan,” he said.

Dumenigo will be returning to Kyrgyzstan this summer as a part of the ASU World Innovators (AWI) program, interning at the Central Asian Research Institute on Corruption and Money Laundering.

“Central Asia has been on my list of countries to visit before many others,” he said. “I just did not think I would experience it so soon.”

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