Washington, D.C. /eNewsChannels/ — The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) is pleased to announce the four winners of its online video contest, “Change Your Climate, Change Our World.” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton launched the contest on November 17, 2009 with a video message on ECA’s ExchangesConnect social networking site, inviting people around the world, ages 14 and older, to submit their original 2-minute videos.

To encourage cross-cultural community building and mutual understanding, the contest defined “climate” in the broadest sense to encompass the people, places, and relationships that affect our daily lives. Contestants were challenged to relate their own actions or actions of others to make a positive difference in a local community and thus contribute to a better world. The contest attracted nearly 9,000 new members to the ExchangesConnect online community; membership grew to over 23,250, from 14,330 prior to the contest.

ExchangesConnect community members representing 50 countries submitted 168 eligible videos. That community voted on the video entries and an expert panel of judges ranked the “top 40” videos, based on Originality, Creativity, Effectiveness, and Production Quality.

ECA selected two international and two American winners (one in each of the two age categories: 14-17; 18 and older) to receive one each of four Grand Prizes: an all-expense-paid two-week exchange program. International winners will travel to the United States and American winners will travel abroad. The School of Cinema and Performing Arts (SOCAPA), one of the premier visual and performing arts programs for young people, has generously supported the contest by providing a two-week summer camp experience for the young international winner. Flip Video™ provided Flip Video™ Camcorders as additional prizes during the contest to spur community engagement.

The contest Grand Prize winners are:

1. Bruna Monteiro do Nascimento, age 17, of Recife, Brazil, for New Eyes;

2. Gints Amoli?š, age 25, of Riga, Latvia, for [?] CYCLE;

3. Rebekah Austin, age 17, of Mill Valley, California, for Souls of Sol, and;

4. Lan Li, age 21, of Los Angeles, California, for Living Beyond Landscapes.

The winning videos and more information are available at ExchangesConnect:

The contest judges, all ECA exchange program alumni, were Jay Craven, Independent Filmmaker; Vassilios Karamitsanis, President, Platforma International Film Festival and Urban Cultural Company; Rodolfo Molina, Coordinator, El Salvador’s Biennials of Visual Arts events; and, Hind Shoufani, Writer and Filmmaker.