Students snap photos to strengthen sister-city ties

January 18, 2011

By Warren Kagarise

Sarah Cluff snapped a photo of ducks and a toddler for a sister cities photo contest. By Sarah Cluff

Students snapped photos of a mountain panorama, football practice and “Copper Clad” — the metal horse sculpture downtown — to showcase Issaquah in a recent sister-cities photo contest.

The inaugural photo contest included students in Issaquah and sister city Chefchaouen, Morocco, in a transatlantic effort to foster cultural ties between students in both places.

The top photographers in both sister cities received cash prizes and recognition from the Issaquah City Council last month.

The city and the nonprofit American Moroccan International Exchange partnered to put on the contest. AMIE — the acronym is French for “friend” — President Mohamed Belali, a Sister Cities Commission member, lauded the top photographers in both cities.

“I thought they were beautiful pictures and representative of people,” he said.

Students competed to convey culture, landscapes and people in the photos.

Liberty High School senior Madeline Harnos earned the top prize — and $500 — in the landscape category among Issaquah students. The runners-up received $250 prizes.

“Taking a photograph is the only way to capture a moment forever, and you can access it whenever you want,” she said.

The prizewinning landscape photo Harnos submitted for the contest depicts a forested mountain vista.

“The one that won in landscape is actually looking off of a mountain and just how far you can see absolutely blows my mind,” she said. “That’s a really big part of America — all of the different landscapes we have, from sunsets to mountains to forests to plains. It’s all here.”

Sarah Cluff, a Pine Lake Middle School student, earned the top spot in the people category for a snapshot of ducks and a galoshes-clad toddler, plus the first place honor in the culture category for a photo of boy riding a scooter.

The contest is the latest cultural exchange between Issaquah and Chefchaouen.

Chefchaouen sent artisans — a wood artist and a metal craftsman — to the Salmon Days Festival in October 2009.

The cities formalized a sister-cities relationship in early 2007. The ties between the cities originated after Belali’s then-12-year-old daughter, Iman, founded AMIE to educate teenagers and dispel negative stereotypes in both countries.

And the winner is…

City and American Moroccan International Exchange leaders honored students in Issaquah and Chefchaouen, Morocco, in a recent photo contest between the sister cities.

The local winners in each category included:


  • Sarah Cluff, Pine Lake Middle School
  • Angie Cluff, Pine Lake Middle School
  • Madeline Harnos, Liberty High School


  • Madeline Harnos
  • Nickolas Evans, Liberty High School
  • Angie Cluff


  • Sarah Cluff
  • Sarah Cluff
  • Nickolas Evans

On the Web

Learn more about the American Moroccan International Exchange at the organization’s website,

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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