10 photos that blew the competition away at the Siena International Photo Awards.

These images are basically like downloading a National Geographic magazine straight to your brain.

Every year, the Siena International Photo Awards brings together some of the world's most amazing photographers. Their mission? Use the power of the photograph to encourage a greater understanding of the world's places, populations, and people.

2017 saw thousands upon thousands of entries from photographers all around the world, and in October, the judges announced their winners. From sleepy bears to quiet treks across the snow, each of these images captures something astounding, magical, true, or important about the world.


Check out 10 of the winning shots below.

1. Overall Photo of the Year: "Sand Hill Cranes" by Randy Olson

National Geographic photographer Randy Olson captured this shot during a storm. 30-second exposures let him capture both moment of a lightning strike and the ghostly image of birds in flight. The United States used to have plenty of braided streams and habitats for these birds. Today, they're running out of places to go. Photo by Randy Olson/Siena International Photo Awards.

2. First place, Journeys and Adventures: "At World's End" by Alessandra Meniconzi

Photographer Alessandra Meniconzi photographed this young girl in Siberia out collecting firewood. While Russia is one of the world's most powerful nations, many of its inhabitants still follow a fairly traditional way of life. Photo by Alessandra Meniconzi/Siena International Photo Awards.

3. First place, Animals in Their Environment: "Attack" by Sergey Gorshkov

An arctic fox and a male goose spar on Wrangel Island, a Russian nature reserve just across from Alaska. With little food to go around, arctic foxes like this one must take risks if they are to stay alive. Photo by Sergey Gorshkov/Siena International Photo Awards.

4. First place, General Color: "Protestor's Eyes" by Jonathan Bachman

In July 2016, photographer Jonathan Bachman captured this striking image of a man being detained while protesting the death of Alton Sterling. That month, Sterling had been killed by police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana — just one in a long string of black men who died unfairly at the hands of law enforcement. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Siena International Photo Awards.

5. First place, The Beauty of the Nature: "Beast" by James Smart

The American Plains are often home to some intense weather, but it sometimes takes a picture like this to make you realize just how powerful, beautiful, and awe-inspiring the weather can be. Photographer James Smart captured this picture of a storm in Black Hawk, South Dakota. Photo by James Smart/Siena International Photo Awards.

6. First place, Fragile Ice: "Dreaming on Sea Ice" by Roie Galitz

This year's special category was all about ice. Roie Galitz snapped this picture of a sleeping polar bear on the island of Svalbard. Polars bears are right at home, living and hunting (and napping) on the floating ice that surrounds the North Pole. But the ice has been steadily disappearing thanks to climate change, leaving the fate of bears like this one in limbo. Photo by Roie Galitz/Siena International Photo Awards.

7. First place, Sports in Action: "Great Britain Team" by Tim Clayton

Olympic cyclists are jarringly fast, so capturing a clear picture of them takes some skill. Tim Clayton snapped this photo of the Great Britain team back at the 2016 Rio Olympics. They went on to win the gold. Photo by Tim Clayton/Siena International Photo Awards.

8. First place, Fascinating Faces and Characters: "I'm Here" by Joao Taborda

Draped in the flag of Portugal and sporting some incredible reflective glasses, this young girl's exuberance shines like a beacon during this Portuguese youth festival. Photo by Joao Taborda/Siena International Photo Awards.

9. First place, General Monochrome: "Crow of Lviv" by Jack Savage

The beautiful city of Lviv, Ukraine, inspired photographer Jack Savage to create this piece. A quick run through Adobe Photoshop helped turn this portrait of a crow into a shot straight out of a noir film. Photo by Jack Savage/Siena International Photo Awards.

10. First place, Architecture and Urban Spaces: "Book Temple III" by Hans-Martin Doelz

Though often shown up by fire, the wheel, and instant shrimp-flavor ramen, the written word is inarguably one of mankind's greatest inventions. Hans-Martin Doelz's photograph of the inside of the Stuttgart City Library captures the grace and reverence owed to such an important invention. Photo by Hans-Martin Doelz/Siena Internationl Photo Awards.

In his novel "Hat Full of Sky," the late Sir Terry Pratchett wrote:

"Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors."

Through showing the vast array of people, events, art, and creatures that populate our world, maybe this contest can help us understand what Pratchett was talking about. It may even inspire you to go see the world through new eyes yourself.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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