Monday, July 21, 2014

By CHIU Lai Yu Bonnie, Hong Kong Scholar

Day 32

I have been travelling in the United States for more than a month now. Every day is meaningful! Every day is enjoyable! I just cannot believe that I am actually counting down the final days of this program. My feelings are very mixed: I really want to stay longer as it’s so fun and inspiring to be here but at the same time, I miss my husband, my kids and things close to me in Hong Kong. There are too many things on my mind that I want to write about and share with my colleagues and friends. I simply do not know where to start. I will perhaps start with what I have achieved and what I will work on after this trip.


Apart from those diversified arranged lectures and visits arranged for us (such as sports advertising, CNN global news gathering, the operation of Wired magazine, the Budget newspaper and learning about the Amish culture etc.), we had attended several self-explored and self-guided lectures during this program including but not limited to:
1.      CORE 101 Introduction To Shopping Communication
(Many of us walked around Chinatown, Little Italy and Fisherman’s Wharf; “handled” discounted items from Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Forever 21, Macy’s etc. in San Franciso. Some of us got a very nice and elegant handbag for US$8!!!!! Yes, US$8 dollars! I got my favorite Calvin Klein’s tops with 40% off and I was so happy that I almost wanted to cry!!)
2.   FGSS 182 Feminism In Community: Community Engagement In Big Sales At Outlet Malls (at Prime, Maryland)
(We will be taking this advanced course later this week in Maryland. I am very excited indeed and some scholars actually went to Wal-Mart to buy an empty suitcase for it!)
3.      ECON 128 The Nature Of Fine-dining
(We dined at the Sun-Dial Upscale Restaurant, a revolving restaurant in Atlanta while appreciating the sunset and the night scenery of Atlanta. I loved my strawberry Gazpacho and grilled salmon! It took the restaurant one whole hour to have a 360 degree panorama turn and we were all busy taking pictures with different views outside of the windows.)
4.      BIO 327 Marine Biology’s Practicum And Participatory Communication
(We ate and tried delicious seafood including San Francisco’s famous cioppino, clams, crabs, shrimps and chowder etc with white wine at a restaurant with sea view. It was so yummy that we barely spoke during our lunch there.)
5.      SOC 015 Clubbing, Consumption And Society
(Some of us went to a nightclub called Havana to experience club culture, tried Latin dancing and tried tequila shots there in Atlanta. I went to Lenox Square and grabbed 2 half-priced Coach handbags in 10 minutes!!!!)
6.      CULT 282 Symphony And Culture
(I went to see “Pixar in Concert” at Davies Symphony Hall in San Franciso. Before the show, I walked around all of the nearby buildings including the Opera House etc. The first show started in San Franciso 2 years ago and after that there has since been similar shows in 85 different countries worldwide. The beauty of the hall stunned me and the San Francisco Orchestra performed very well.)
7.    MUS 101 Jazz and Anthropology: (Some colleagues went to a pub with live jazz music in downtown San Franciso after their Afghanistani meal)
8.    SPORT 2460 Trekking Science within Google Community: (We walked around Google offices and appreciated the working atmosphere there due to the fact that our bus-driver dropped us off at the wrong place. But I need to thank him for that as it was a very nice walk by which we saw bicycles, cars, road signs etc. which all have “Google” colors or names )


We had taken many other “courses” which of are a similar nature and I was really enjoying myself in all of the “courses” above and I passed them with “distinction”.
As for the future collaboration, Professor Yusuf  Kalyango and Professor Mary T. Rogus had mentioned to us about the idea of writing a book together. Every one of us contributed some information from our country or city and then they would compile it. I have been working hard on my research topic and hope one day a paper will be published. I have narrowed down the scope of my research paper: either taking a documented approach, i.e. examining on the details of every court case or taking a qualitative and quantitative approach, i.e. send out a questionnaire to a targeted group such as university students or journalists to ask them their concept about the right to be forgotten etc. and then to analyze the results thereafter.  I am very grateful to my research partner, Dr. Kevin Grieves, who has been supervising me even when he is on leave. Sri Lanka scholar Mr. Aruna Lokuliyana and I have been discussing the possibility of writing a research paper together on social media using a comparative approach; I have talked about using “Skype” to give a guest lecture with some of our scholars on editing, gender issues, diplomatic issues etc... I had meetings with many faculty members here at Ohio University to discuss on future collaboration. Special thanks to Dr. Scott Titsworth, Dean, Scripps College of Communication, Dr. Michelle Ferrier, Associate Dean, Scripps College of Communication, Dr. Bob Steward, Director of Scripps School of Journalism as they had all spent time to see me. I have already connected them and with my relevant colleagues in Hong Kong for further correspondence related to student exchange programs, joint PhD programs, exchange of faculty members via short conferences or teaching, joint publication etc.  Without the great support of Professor Yusuf  Kalyango, Professor Mary T. Rogus, Professor  Bill Reader and Professor Jatin Srivastava, I would not have so many ideas on how to have more collaborative projects in the future. Thus, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank them all.
One final but important sharing here: SUSI did me a great favor in accomplishing my personal agenda in doing some charitable work for twins in the future. I put my story very precisely: when I carried my twin boys 4 years ago, I had a rare condition called Twin-to-twin-transfusion Syndrome (TTTS). It was very dangerous and I had to do 2 laser operations to save my boys’ lives when they were still inside me. I was so worried about the lives of them and I cried almost every day when bed-resting at the hospital or at home for about 6 months. Accidentally, I found a website: http://www.tttsfoundation.org/ , which is operated by a foundation called Twin to Twin Transfusion Foundation.  The president and founder of the foundation, Mary Slaman, lost one of her twin sons 25 years ago due to this terrible condition and then she set up this foundation to help mothers all over the world. I visited this website to gain all kinds of support every day during my most difficult times. It did not just give me a lot of information about TTTS, more importantly, it encouraged me by reinforcing the message: our kids can make it!!! With the miracle of God’s grace, my boys are healthy, smart and have just turned 3 recently. I had been thinking of thanking Mary in person in the last 4 years. It so happened that this foundation is situated at Bay Village, very near to Cleveland. When the SUSI program brought us to visit Cleveland, I met Mary for about 2 hours during our free-time.  Both of us cried during our first meeting (I know it was very strange but I guess only we who have had the condition could understand such empathy) as we shared the same similar terrible experience. I donated some funds to the foundation, interviewed her and have planned to write an article to promote this foundation. I had also offered to translate the whole website in Chinese so that more Chinese-speaking mothers could be helped. I am very appreciative to the fact that an American like Mary can help save lives and change the world by her individual efforts!!! I need to learn from her and I hope all twin babies can survive such an ordeal! Moreover, in this year, the SUSI program had 3 (including me) scholars out of 18 that have twins. We plan to write a book together about twins in different countries and we hope that any money gained from the sales of the books will be sent to charity!!!
Many thanks for enrolling me in this program. I hope when we are approaching the end of this program it would only mean that we will be entering a new era of further collaboration.




Beyond Cultural Boundaries by Agnes Jacob-Nepomuceno, SUSI 2014

Beyond Cultural Borders
     Agnes Jacob-Nepomuceno, Ed.D.
     SUSI 2014 Scholar, Philippines                  

The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

If the renowned icon of American Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., had lived his life of service for others as a key player in advancing equality between white and black people during his time, “ he played a pivotal role in ending the legal segregation of African –American citizens in the South and other areas of United States from the mid 1950s to 1968,” (http://www.biography.com/people/martin-luther-king-jr9365086#synopsis); everyone in the present time is also called to fulfill same noble mission of  Luther, who received Nobel Peace Price in 1964, by bravely standing up for equality and truth in order to bring order and peace in a world that is beset with gigantic issues, challenges, conflicts that come in various shapes and sizes.
My journey for this 5-week cultural study; I owe much to the United States of America through the Scholarship for the United States Institute for Journalism and Media is a fulfillment of a dream of achieving the pinnacle of professional growth and competence as an educator, journalist, and broadcaster working for a premiere state-run university serving a region of six provinces, a developing and yet promising progressive nation, the Philippines.
The SUSI 2014 PROGRAM is full-packed with a series of holistic academic activities and cultural exposure that tickled the intellectual minds and expanded the band of interest and excitement of scholars from across 18 countries; a world representation of carefully selected media professionals from Russia, Costa Rica, Zambia, Hong Kong, Finland, Australia, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, India, Romania, Sri Lanka, Kuwait, Sudan, Malawi, Tunisia, Chile, and Philippines. A gathering of brilliant professionals with distinct cultural background and unique personality is one of the outstanding achievement by the U.S. an icon of democracy and the host of SUSI scholarship by being instrumental in forming and bringing together a group of scholars; thus provided a network of cultural sharing of opportunities for future collaboration in dyad forms; either by formal association (professional ties) and informal (continuing friendship) in a wired world or by actual visits to the member countries of the program.
Certainly the SUSI program provided the scholars with an exponential growth of knowledge; a wisdom that is strongly built and embedded in everyone´s memory and heart; oozing out with enthusiasm of going back to one´s country and transfer and share the information and experiences gained to hundreds of young minds eagerly awaiting for their comeback.
The scholarship administrator, Ohio University through the International Institute of Journalism, has been successful in bringing to the session room a number of practically experienced and seasoned media practitioners and educators who definitely rocked the intellectual bank of scholars who were passionate to learn newest inputs on media practices in America vis-à-vis educational thoughts and practices that would help the scholars further understand their deeper and significant roles in training and preparing youths who will be tomorrow´s builder of informed society and keeper and guardians of the crucial role and place of media in the world.
The 2014 SUSI SUMMER days rolled by smoothly from day 1 to the last 10 days as of the writing of this piece before the conclusion of the 5-week exchange visit program. On academic note, theories and practical applications made during the long hours of session were found to be mind-boggling, physically challenging, and yet intellectually satisfying. To research enthusiasts, the teachings and discussions on rigors of research was helpful, inspiring and challenging not to mention the role play activity that served as wake-up call particularly on seeing the realities that universities must adapt to in teaching Journalism and MEDIA. That students in communication schools must not only be led towards mastery of domestic issues that occur in one´s country but must go beyond borders and understand international issues that affect the world in its entirety. Certainly, lessons on international relations, laws, politics, economics, and ethics must be seriously taught to maintain the communication competence of media personalities as reliable sources of information by the people and whose sensitive news performance is crucial in shaping the decision-making and action of every man.  
The Director of Ohio University, International Institute of Journalism (IIJ), Dr. Yusuf Kalyango, fanned the intellectual pressure among the scholars by assigning Peace Conflict Cases among four (4) small groups.  The task required peaceful resolution of conflicts, which along the process of brainstorming challenged each individual’s take on the issues. But giving PEACE a chance consequently made the system’s theory work with the activity, which placed   greater emphasis on the premise that “the whole is better than its parts.”
On a lighter note, if the term justifies it so, the task to handle the CASE STUDY CONFLICT activity was assigned to me by Dr. K.  And while I was also required to present my own country’s peace conflict issue, a 40 years old armed conflict in the Philippines (available by email: docaj36@yahoo.com). When Martin Luther King’s struggled in his time to realize his dreams for racial emancipation, through his historical speech, I HAVE A DREAM, all of us have our own share of LONG WALK TO FREEDOM AND PEACE.
 “….and when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”  (Full text, I Have a Dream Speech: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/809993).
When I was made to experience with the real working of PEACE CONFLICT, by placing me in a challenging role, which, of course, required studying the two different peace issues that the SUSI scholars were also dealing with.  Paradoxically, I was really fighting a personal peace disturbance issue on the same day and exact hours of the scholars’ role-play, when my hometown was being hit by a super typhoon that had its strong landfall in the very city where I live. And when worries further snowballed when electricity and communication services were downed by furious winds and heavy rains.  But life-threatening and personal issues back home didn’t have to stand in the way.  The show must go on and in the end; it did turn out well.
Thus:    The ultimate test of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and moments of convenience, but where he stands in moments of challenge and moments of controversy,” really made sense to me at the very moment when I had to perform my special task as a CASE STUDY MANAGER for the given activity.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

OMG! I have been proven wrong…USA is not what I saw on TV.

By Brenda Bukowa

Before 19th June 2014, I dreaded the thought of living or even studying in the USA. I had the image of USA that depicted a country that doesn’t sleep, I country full of crime and a country that has celebrities at every corner and paparazzi’s chasing after them.

I am sure you are thinking to yourselves, “what is wrong with this image of USA, why wouldn’t one want to live in such a country?” well I am goner say, I am quite strange and I love to just be in a place that is quite and where people mind their business. 

My ideal "place of paradise" is one where birds sing and preferably fly backwards, where water flows and produce a melody and spring fresh smell that can take any baby to sleep, where people are friendly and where the glass and trees are green and produce a fragrance that would substitute for perfume on any given day.  This place in my description I prefer to call “heaven”

Athens in the day, my "little slice of Heaven"
Before, flying to USA and participating in a 6 week long exchange at Ohio University, I knew I was going to live in some high-rise building and busy streets but, hell No! I was proved wrong. Remember, my description of paradise above? I have been shown a slice of paradise in USA. Athens they call it, is a beautiful quiet town situated along the Hocking River in the Southeastern part of Ohio State.  I have seen a couple of police cars but haven’t heard any sirens…amazing right? Especially that the image of US is one of police and sirens…well at least to me.

Athens Sunshine breaks through in the early hours of the day
This will blow your mind; Athens pet population is composed of a dozen squirrels every few meters along the relatively busy driveways and paths. Are you asking what I am talking about? Yes... I am talking about those little characters in the movie “Alvin and the chipmunks”, now this time in their live form. It is amazing how the little creatures move about freely and happily. By now I am sure you are getting hold of what I mean by Athens being a "little slice of heaven".

Get over the excitement about squirrels, and imagine the fact that Athens doesn’t only boast of Squirrels but a variety of birds and animals that would leave any persons mouth open in disbelief.  

Forget Athens, for a little while and come with me to Cleveland (located in northeastern Ohio on the Southern shore of lake Erie approximately 60 miles (97 km) west of the Pennsylvania border), and let’s meet the Amish people. I know you have come across a number of writings, documentary films and drawings on these people. Take a moment however, and imagine life without TV, Cell phones (imagine no IPhones) and computers. Take another thought and imagine how your life would be without these gadgets, unbearable right?...mine too, but this is the life that these people live 24/7, 365 days a year. I will be honest, I have never come across a land as beautiful as the Amish country, this is another slice of heaven that I am sure was left behind on earth for Americans to enjoy.
An Amish pair Lester and Mary Beachy

Forget about heaven for a moment and lets talk about the Amish lifestyle. In addition to not having the modern telecommunications gadgets, these people follow strict Christian beliefs, and only reach up to a certain level in their formal education (I know you are asking “like seriously?”) it is interesting to note that their lives are centered on using their hands to make a living and for them this is enough.

These people also do not believe in “sex before marriage” and their women once married have to be full time housewives and this is not negotiable.

I have had a great time in the USA and every night before sleeping I smile and think of how wrong I was to misjudge this beautiful country in the manner I did.

My thai lunch, this and alot more food are a favourite of mine







 However, they say to every beautiful thing there are one or two things that could go wrong. My journey in America is no exception, I am sad to note that I am soon going to need new clothes and this is because I am loving the food a bit too much that my jeans and dresses and a lot more other garments are getting a bit too small for my size (now talk of spending a few hundred dollars for a new wardrobe, not a good thing right?)



Brenda Bukowa (Lecturer and Media Consultant). University of Zambia, Department of Mass Communication. Email; bukowab1@yahoo.com, brenda.bukowa@unza.zm







It is not Guns N' Roses.

The road to Chillicothe, Ohio, reminded me the surroundings of Valdivia, a small city in the South of Chile, where meandering rivers and native forest providing a kind of eternal mist, create an atmosphere similar to that of the tales of knight-errantry. 
We went to see the Tecumseh! drama, which takes place in an inmense amphitheatre sorrounded by nature, next to the Great Seal State Park. The play tells the story of  Shawnee, a native american leader from the XVI century, who fights to protect his homeland and his people from the American  settlers. Although some scenes could be quite violent for children (some of the assisting kids were  covering their eyes and ears at certain moments), the play was more than interesting and it worth the visit.
The theatre complex includes a prehistoric indian mini-museum, a terrace buffet, a snacks store and the “Mountain Gallerie Free Shop”, where enthusiastic parents were buying toy-weapons for their children. There were two kinds of weapons on sale: those used by the indians –bow and arrow- and those used by the settlers: rifles and shotguns.
Before the play had started, dozens of children were playing with their plastic shotguns pointing each-other, to their parents, to other people in the theatre and also to the yet empty stage. I guess that shotguns were much more popular than bows and arrows.  During the play, the intermetzzo and at the end of the drama, the kids were more excited about playing and some parents were proudly taking pictures of them while posing with their guns.
This whole scene brought to my mind the work of the photographer An-Sofie Kesteleyn, who traveled to the US to visit rifle ranges in Ohio and other southern states, where children learn the necessary skills to use a weapon and to shoot propperly. Part of her work and the story can be seen in this article from The Guardian’s journalist Sean O’Hagan. What strikes me most about these photographs is that the weapons used by children are not toys, but real guns in blue and pink.

Hard facts

According to The State of America Children’s last report 2014, 2,694 children, including teenagers, were killed by guns in 2010 and 15,576 children and teens were injured by guns, meaning that one child or teen was killed or injured every 30 minutes, 50 every day, and 351 every week. The report also shows the following stats,  depicting the astounding difference between US gun death in children and other high income countries.




The following video produced by the non profit news organization Mother Jones, shows in numbers and visualizations how many children were killed by guns in the US between the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 and december 2013.



We mostly know about US children dying in massacres through mainstream media, which in general give a deep coverage of this kind of events, taking advantage of the profit generated by violent images and dramatic stories that attract bigger audiences. But the truth, is that there are so many cases that are left behind: those children who die alone in their own homes because of gun shoots,  either by accident or by murder.

It was a fake!

Last tuesday, in the peaceful city of Athens in Ohio, after participating in an inspiring session of the SUSI program at the Scripps School of Journalism, all the scholars were adviced that there was a possible shooting on campus, in a residence hall located on the East Green area.  These were the news on twitter:


Helicopters, police cars, ambulances and media were in minutes sorrounding the area.  Most of us went to our dorms and stayed there until receiving the good news: every place was inspected and nothing was found, not even a witness of the possible shooting.  

Compulsive Obsessive

In Spanish, we have the expression "deformación profesional", meaning some kind of "professional obsession or misconduct", referring mainly to when you keep working in the moments you shouldn't.
While waiting for the news, I did some little research on school shootings in Ohio since 1864 until present and added the data into a map (feel free to click on the red pins to expand the information).




Finally, the case was a fake alarm, but I must say that it was quite an uncomfortable and a bit scary situation for all of us who were on campus.  Just in case, I also found these instructions on how to respond to an active shooter.

I think in all the above stories and numbers there is a common place: how much damage causes to a peaceful society the promotion and use of fire weapons and how worse it gets when parents grow their children in a gun friendly environment.
The promoted idea that “arming more adults will protect kids” falls into pieces when we see the story of school massacres and dead children by fireguns in the country. Just see the numbers, see all the stories behind them. 

I know. Life is a death to come. But why should we rush it?

Lionel Brossi. Instituto de la Comunicación e Imagen. Universidad de Chile. lionel.brossi@u.uchile.cl