On United Planet Day, the Sun Shines Equally On All People of Earth

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The grand prize winner of the United Planet Day photo contest is announced on the Fall Equinox.

"The Inca Beauty" by Anisha Mehreja

This photo captures their close relationship and bond throughout the trip at Machu Picchu. They are both, together as family, admiring the beauty of Machu Picchu and the high significance it has in Peru's history.

September 22, or the Fall Equinox, is the only time of the year when the middle of the sun is positioned above and below horizon, shining on all people of Earth for an equal amount of time. This once-a-year occurrence represents equilibrium, which is why United Planet—an international nonprofit organization whose mission is to create a more peaceful and sustainable global community through cross-cultural exploration—celebrates United Planet Day on this date.

The Boston-based nonprofit works to fulfill their mission by sending volunteers abroad to work in local communities in over 35 countries. United Planet emphasizes the importance of its mission by hosting the annual United Planet Day Photo & Video Contest to seek visual submissions which exemplify or illustrate cross-cultural understanding and support. The contest is open to the public and submissions come from world travelers and volunteers alike.

This year, the United Planet Day Contest received over 130 photo and video entries. Finalists were chosen by public vote, and the grand prize winner and runner up were selected by United Planet Team members.

United Planet is pleased to announce that this year’s grand prize winner of the United Planet Day Photo & Video Contest is Anisha Mehreja for her photo entry entitled “The Inca Beauty.”

The photo was taken by Anisha Mehreja in the Andes Mountains of Peru, where she volunteered this past summer. It depicts two volunteers, mother and son, who both worked with children at a local school. Anisha explains, “This photo captures their close relationship and bond throughout the trip at Machu Picchu. They are both, together as family, admiring the beauty of Machu Picchu and the high significance it has in Peru's history. Not only does this picture help capture the bond a mother and son should have, and how this trip brought them close together, but it shows part of the Incan history.”

As the grand prize winner, Anisha will receive a free two-week volunteer abroad Quest with United Planet to her choice of one of ten destinations around the world (a $2,000 value). She has already expressed how excited she is for the opportunity to volunteer abroad and hopes it will lend her the opportunity to further her education. She hopes to volunteer abroad in a medical setting to gain experience for her future career.

Additionally, Virginia Becker was selected as the runner-up for her photo entitled “Life After Genocide.” The photograph, which depicts a Guatemalan woman in her 30s, is a testament to the resilience of the people of the Uspantan region of Guatemala after many of their people were killed in genocide. Virginia explains, “As a result, there are very few people over the age of 40 living in Uspantan. I traveled to Uspantan and took portraits of over 500 Mayan children. I brought a professional quality printer with me and provided each family with a hard copy picture of their child. None of these children had ever been photographed before.”

For more information on United Planet and how you can get involved in your local community and abroad, visit the organization’s website. United Planet offers short-term and long-term Quests year-round for volunteers to work on projects at locations around the world. Through volunteer work, the organization believes people can cross cultural boundaries to better understand one another and create a global community beyond borders.

United Planet, an international non-profit based in Boston, MA, strives to create a world in which all people understand, respect, and support one another. United Planet's global network of leaders and volunteers fosters cross-cultural understanding and addresses shared challenges to unite the world in a community beyond borders. Over the past ten years, United Planet has worked with local communities all over the world to find meaningful work for volunteer travelers; and has placed thousands of volunteers in those communities to live and work – for periods ranging from one week to one year. United Planet is the U.S. and Canadian member of the International Cultural Youth Exchange (ICYE) Federation, founded in 1949. For more information about United Planet and its volunteer abroad programs, please visit us http://www.unitedplanet.org.

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Andrea Shapiro
United Planet
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