Announcing the AUA Neighborhoods of Asia Photo Contest Winners

Date: 2024-05-13

The 2024 Asian Universities Alliance “Embracing Asian Diversity” Photo Contest Series with the theme Neighborhoods of Asia took place from January to May 2024. The contest was hosted by the Asian Universities Alliance (AUA) and organized by Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School (SIGS). The contest aims to capture and celebrate Asia’s diversity and its impact on the world through the camera lens.

Over 190 students and faculty/staff members from all 15 AUA member universities submitted 950 photographs to the contest. Their photographs vividly depicted the vibrancy and diversity of Asia’s neighborhoods.

Today, we officially announce the 12 award-winning photographs and six Honorable Mentions.

Congratulations to our winners who have wonderfully captured the beauty of Asia’s neighborhoods!

First Prize


Location: Inle Lake, Shan State, Myanmar

Families living around Inle Lake make their living through traditional fishing. This tradition has existed since ancient times until today. These beautiful moments attract travelers and provide a source of income for the families living there.468-Myo MINN AUNG.jpg

Photographer: Myo MINN AUNG

Undergraduate student at the University of Yangon

“The Inle Lake area of Myanmar is renowned for its unique traditions and stunning landscapes. In this traditional fishing workshop, fishermen skillfully navigate their boats using a single leg. Local tribes craft exceptional fishing tools from bamboo, showcasing their traditional craftsmanship. The inhabitants wear beautiful and comfortable attire. Inspired by this cultural richness, I submitted this photo to the contest, aiming to highlight Asia's traditional cultures and exquisite ways of life.”

Urban Forest

Location: Hong Kong, China

In the unique urban setting of Hong Kong, tourists can experience up close the prosperity and bustle of the city as they navigate through it. However, from the sky, everything seems to reveal a different order and beauty. The dense clusters of buildings resemble small mountain peaks, closely connected, forming a vast urban “forest.”

PhotographerXIE Yuxin

Graduate student at Peking University

“I launched a drone from the peak of Tai Ping Mountain, and as it ascended, my gaze followed suit. The captivating Hong Kong cityscape captured from above appeared exceptionally charming. At such heights, I felt as if I could perceive the heartbeat of Hong Kong more profoundly. Each press of the shutter recorded the unique brilliance of the city.”

Second Prize

End of the Day

Location: Negombo, Western Province, Sri Lanka

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On a golden sandy beach of Negombo, a city home to a prominent fishing community, a weary fisherman takes a refreshing and much-deserved wash, cleansing away the day’s trials. In the background, women engage in friendly conversation as they wait for the fish preparation process to be completed.930-Gitanjali Mawalagedera (1).jpg

PhotographerGitanjali MAWALAGEDERA

Faculty/staff member at the University of Colombo

“As an island nation, Sri Lanka hosts a vast, sprawling coastline where fishing plays an important part in the day-to-day lives of many. This photograph, taken during my travels to Negombo in the Western Province of Sri Lanka, captures a fisherman showering after a long day of hard work hauling in fish, with his neighbors seated in the background. Sorting the catch of the day is very much a group activity. Asia is a truly unique continent and each neighborhood has something unique to offer.”

The Bright Colors of the Bazaar

Location: Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

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Bazaars in Central Asia are the life of the city, and Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent is no exception. In this photo, a man is busy preparing Lagman, a typical Uyghur noodle dish. The bazaar is blessed by the fading afternoon springtime sun, bringing a peaceful atmosphere to this usually bustling and loud commercial place. The colorful blue and red patterns on the stall recall traditional Uzbek patterns, adding a unique character and charm.


Photographer: Helene THIBAULT

Faculty/staff member at Nazarbayev University

“I am originally from Canada, but I have been living in Kazakhstan for eight years. I frequently travel to neighboring countries. This photo was taken during a working trip to Tashkent, just before the traditional celebration of spring called Navruz (literally, “New day”). I did not miss the chance to visit one of the most iconic bazaars in Central Asia. The region's historical heritage, multicultural character, warm people, and spectacular landscapes are definitely worthy of attention!”

Shanghai in the Sunset Glow

Location: Shanghai, China

The Lupu Bridge, with its vast deck and continuous traffic flow, creates a striking vertical line in the scene. The wide river flowing horizontally is the Huangpu River. From above, the cargo ships on the river, the traffic on the bridge, the clear Huangpu District, and even the distant Pudong Lujiazui skyline can be seen at a glance. At this moment, the sky is equally magnificent, with a spectacular and radiant sunset.


Photographer: WANG Haolin

Graduate student at Tsinghua University

“I have traveled through many interesting and absolutely impressive cities in Asia, which have important international influence, unique histories and cultures, and developed business and entertainment industries. They are definitely the treasures of world culture.”

Morning Impressions

Location: Shenzhen, China


As the dawn breaks over Shenzhen, the early morning sunlight begins to illuminate the bustling cityscape. People from various walks of life move briskly through this modern metropolis. Yet, the sun has already woven their shadows into the grand urban backdrop. Let’s take a moment to follow the shadows that accompany us, to catch a glimpse of this fleeting beauty.953-朱德宽.jpg

Photographer: ZHU Dekuan

Graduate student at Tsinghua University

“In my view, the Shenzhen streetscape embodies a seamless fusion of modernity and tradition, harmoniously blending fast-paced urban life with a relaxed atmosphere. This youthful city consistently astounds me from the most unexpected corners.”

Third Prize

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Location: Xining, China

On the streets near Dongguan Mosque in Xining, I photographed two elderly men whose faces reflected the trials of time and the joys of life. The open shop in the background carries distinct Northwestern Chinese features. The entire scene showcases the extraordinary in a seemingly ordinary corner of this city.

Photographer: HE Pu

Graduate student at Peking University

“In my photography, I have always maintained the humblest attitude to record and learn. I am very happy to have participated in this competition and am honored to use my works to spread the beauty and emotion of Asia’s streets.”

Minimalist Dusk

Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


This photo was taken on my usual route home from school. That afternoon, a ray of sunlight pierced through a gap between two buildings, illuminating the building across from me. Walking past this scene after class, I quickly took out my phone to capture this rare and stunning moment.

Photographer: LI Xiaoran

Graduate student at Universiti Malaya

“‘Carefully observe, and life will change the plain color of the past to show us many beautiful moments,’ I often remind myself before pressing the shutter.Minimalist duskis based on such an idea. This competition is not only a test of my photography skills but also an important opportunity to show the world the beautiful scenery of Asia’s communities.

Life Struggle

Location: Colombo, Sri Lanka

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On a busy street in Colombo, a king coconut vendor is pushing his loaded cart with great effort. The photograph was taken as he moved from the shade into a patch of sunlight. The expression in his eyes reveals his fatigue, yet he perseveres, determined to earn his daily bread for his family.

Photographer: Lakshan SENEVIRATHNE

Graduate student at the University of Colombo

“This photograph was captured during an early morning visit to the busy streets of Pettah in Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka. I have a special interest in capturing people and their lifestyles. This king coconut vendor was pushing his cart with great effort on a busy street. I managed to capture him when he was exposed to a patch of sunlight which brought a unique photographic value and special focus. Post-processing of the image into monochrome helped to highlight his facial expressions. This image is a perfect match for the theme ‘Neighborhoods of Asia’ of this competition.”

Decisive Battle

Location: Minamisoma, Fukushima, Japan

I photographed a ritual passed down through generations called Soma Nomaoi. The sight of 400 mounted warriors parading through the town and competing in the arena allows us to experience what it might have been like to travel back 1,000 years.

Photographer:Hiroyuki SHIMA

Faculty/staff member at The University of Tokyo

“At first, I found it very challenging to photograph the theme ‘Neighborhoods of Asia,’ which can be interpreted in many ways. One day, I found myself thinking about my hometown, Minamisoma City in Fukushima Prefecture, which was struck by a major earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. I decided to submit a photo of the traditional ritual called Soma Nomaoi, which has been passed down for over a thousand years. Despite the town’s significant damage from natural disasters, its people have continued this ritual. I hope that everyone in Asia can witness the brave and fierce mounted samurai in action.”

A Corner of the Red Sea

Location: Umluj, Saudi Arabia

The coast of Umluj is quiet and relaxing. A man stops his car to buy dinner, while a woman in the distance calmly watches the waves rolling in at sunset. Being in Saudi Arabia gives you a sense of indescribable beauty.

961-张智超 (1).jpgPhotographer:ZHANG Zhichao

Graduate student at Tsinghua University

“This photo was taken in the seaside city of Umluj, Saudi Arabia, during a student group visit to the country in the winter of 2023. The food stalls are quiet under the setting sun, and a lady sits quietly in the distance. Such a beautiful scene reflects my experience in Saudi Arabia: we can never truly understand a country solely through information found on the internet.”

Night Market Aromas in Guangxi

Location: Nanning, China

As night falls, food lovers gather at Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street in Nanning to enjoy these local delicacies and the vibrant street atmosphere. The street vendors best represent the warmth of a city, with their lively calls and varied colors providing comfort to the hurried passersby. This place offers a sense of home for many non-locals.

Photographer: ZHENG Kaiyuan

Graduate student at Tsinghua University

“As night falls, people come to Zhongshan Road Pedestrian Street in Nanning to taste delicious food. These snacks can always alleviate rush and busyness and represent a warm aspect of the city. In the corner of the street lies the city’s silhouette. Here, I can feel the warmth of this city, which prompted me to press the shutter.”

Honorable Mentions

Joy in Medina by Hoor ALHAMMADI, King Saud University

People Mountain, People Sea by Hillary GIAM, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

The Overseas Chinatown in Thailand by Yingyillong HU, Chulalongkorn University

Whispers of Tradition by Chengyuan LI, United Arab Emirates University

Sunset Sport by Radityo Jonathan Aron PANJAITAN, National University of Singapore

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Legacy and Life by Adarsh S, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

All the entries are heartfelt creations of the participants; each press of the shutter is an act of love and documentation of life. In this photography competition filled with creativity and passion, both the works and the participants showcase the elegance and talent of students, faculty, and staff from the Asian Universities Alliance.

Congratulations again to our winners!

(Source: Tsinghua Shenzhen International Graduate School)