Hellgate High School senior Ian Knight was honored on Tuesday at City Hall for winning the Grand Prize in the U.S. State Department’s nationwide 2017 Citizen Diplomacy Challenge for a photo entitled ‘Unity’.

Knight described the program and his participation.

“Two years ago I took part in the Mansfield Center’s American Youth Leadership Program for Thailand,” said Knight. “While I was there, one of the staff took a photo of me while we were visiting a mosque in the southern province of Thailand. In November of 2017 there was an alumni photo contest and I entered this photo being shown today, and it was chosen as the grand prize winner.”

Knight said, coming from Montana, he had never visited a mosque before.

“It’s a black and while setting of the fifth prayer of the day,” he said. “I feel like it accurately illustrates the meaning of diplomacy, and it’s just a very powerful image for a lot of people right now.”

Mansfield Center Associate Director Deena Mansour said the Center has been cooperating with the State department since 2009.

“We’ve sent about 80 high school students to Thailand and Cambodia,” Mansour said. “Our goal at the Mansfield Center and the University of Montana is to help internationalize the University of Montana where we don’t have so many international exchange opportunities.”

Mayor John Engen proclaimed the day as the International Exchanges Day, UM President Seth Bodnar and MCPS Superintendent Mark Thane spoke to reporters in the hallway outside the Mayor’s office where the photo was displayed.

Knight’s photo will be part of the first-of-its-kind exhibit at the United States Diplomacy Center in Washington, D.C.