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Bringing faces to a global concept

As the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions nears its scheduled December completion, a project offers USF students and staff the chance to have their faces appear permanently within the new building’s lobby.

The Faces of the World project – which requests all submissions by June 15 – seeks out portraits of USF students, staff and alumni with varying cultural backgrounds to promote the college’s diversity. Professional photographer Christophe Jouany will take the pictures.

Jouany has been commissioned before by such magazine clients as Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire and Sports Illustrated – and now he will work alongside the USF campus community.

Promising applicants will be contacted for an interview, and then a selection of about 50 will conduct a photoshoot with Jouany between June and Sept. 15.

“For someone to be selected, we have to say, ‘Wow, what a character!'” Jouany said. “I’m looking for a sparkle in their eye.”

Finally, a series of 10 portraits will be selected for permanent display when the new Patel Center for Global Solutions opens.

Jouany first became aware of USF when he shot the cover for the University’s Winter 2010 magazine. He said that USF President Judy Genshaft took a liking to his picture and approached him with the idea for the in-construction building.

The final pictures will be shot with a white backdrop and blown up to about five or six feet high. The subjects are asked to wear plain clothing for one unified aesthetic, but are encouraged to bring accessories that highlight their cultural and individual personalities.

“It’s all about emphasizing the ethnic aspect of people,” Jouany said.

Maria Fernanda Antunez, an international student studying English, is among the proactive students who have already submitted a photo.

“It’s a great experience,” Antunez said. “I’ve seen (Jouany’s) work and it’s really good. It would be a privilege to work with him.”

In addition to the portraits, there also will be 10 words in the display – one word written above each subject’s picture. The exact message has yet to be chosen, but will further emphasize the theme of globalization.

Beyond the lobby portraits and current Patel Center, the new Patel Center for Global Solutions will include an auditorium for global speakers, international affairs buildings like the Confucius Institute and administration offices.

Patel Center’s assistant academic director Rebecca Lee Harris has worked with the center since January 2002 and said she believes that it will remain an important part of the USF campus.

“The USF vision statement includes global engagement,” Harris said. “It’s important for students to be outward oriented and remember that the world is small – to see that things we do here have global impacts.”

Harris said that working for the Patel Center has ultimately been rewarding for her.

“I moved here from D.C., where I was involved with a lot of international projects. When I moved here, I thought I wouldn’t have those experiences,” Harris said. “The Patel Center changed that – it helps you meet a lot of people and learn about cultures. It’s like bringing the world here to Tampa.”

The Patel Center involves itself in internationally inclined projects including global student internships, water harvesting workshops and communications with foreign countries like Haiti.

“We’ve hosted teachers from Haiti and the Dominican Republic – even post-earthquake we’re still in touch with them,” Harris said. “People from the Dominican Republic are helping the Haitians out, even though they’re two countries that don’t get along.”

The Patel Center’s involvement in globalization creates a canvas encompassing the Faces of the World project – the only thing left to decide is the photographer’s subjects.

Jouany said his love for photography first blossomed when he was a teen.

“My father gave me a camera around the age of 14 and it was love at first sight – it was a passion right away,” Jouany said. “I studied to become a pilot, but resigned to go back to photography. That’s how much I love it.”

However, the project’s press release stresses that applicants do not need any experience in front of or behind the camera. Jouany said it’s not a modeling contest and shouldn’t be treated as such.

“It’s much bigger than that,” Jouany said. “It’s a recording of the state of body of 2010 for generations to come. It’s very important to be involved in the bigger picture of USF. It doesn’t matter if you’re selected – it matters if you’re a part of it.”

Although the submission deadline for photos is next week, Jouany said he thinks the date might be set back to give students more time.

Interested parties can enter the project by submitting a photograph to HLPGINA@gmail.com with the following items – name, e-mail address, date and place of birth, ethnic background, T-shirt size and whether the participant is USF faculty, staff, student or alumni.