By Lindsay Boyle
As July’s launch of the 2012 Study of the U.S. Institute on Journalism and Media nears, the 18 scholars that were chosen this year are busy with preparations and full of expectations.
The SUSI summer institute — in which scholars from all over the world come to the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University to study journalism and media — is funded by an annual renewable grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Study of the U.S. Branch in the Office of Academic Exchange Programs.
Because the program runs from the beginning of July to late August, many of the institutions that the scholars work at are not in session.
Additionally, August in particular is a month that is often devoted to holiday — a time period in which employees receive paid time off from work — for workers in many international nations. Because of that, most of the scholars said they did not have to make too many preparations to get their daily duties taken care of while they are away.
Regardless, some are still doing what they can to make sure they do not get behind while in the U.S. Pakistani scholar Aazadi Burfat, for example, is doing her best to finish up tasks that may have otherwise occurred in late July or August.
Taimoor Noori, a scholar from Afghanistan who works with the New York Times, contacted the bureau in Kabul to allow them to find a temporary replacement to perform his work while he is overseas for the SUSI program.
When packing, the scholars plan to bring a variety of things to the U.S. Many mentioned laptops, cameras and daily necessities. Some said they would bring diaries and journals. Others, such as Burfat, plan to bring not only their previously acquired knowledge and expertise, but also a desire to learn and discover.
Noori said he plans to “bring Afghanistan to the U.S.” by sharing his culture with others who are a part of the SUSI program. Scholar Karlyga Myssayeva, from Kazakhstan, expressed a similar desire to convey information about her country — and about media in her country — with others.
In the same vein, scholar Trang Nguyen said she will bring informational materials about her fellow faculty members and about her media practice in Vietnam to share with SUSI colleagues and others she will meet while in the U.S.
The majority of the scholars said their families are what they will miss the most while they are participating in the SUSI program. Burfat, for example, explained that the time she spends in the U.S. will be the longest amount of time she has ever been separated from her family.
Regardless, the scholars are full of excitement and expectations.
“My expectations are to learn as much as I can from my colleagues and all the students and professionals who will be working at the SUSI program for journalism and media,” said Silvia Callejas, a scholar from El Salvador.
Many of the other scholars also want, first and foremost, to take advantage of the learning opportunities that SUSI will present. “I’m looking to learn millions of new things,” Burfat said.
Overall, scholar Dr. Wilberforce Dzisah, from Ghana, said he hopes that SUSI will be “a highly engaging and challenging program with the tendency to add new dimensions to my perspectives on media and journalism and cultural imperatives of the U.S.”
Armenian scholar Dr. Suren Deheryan is looking forward to visiting the U.S. in general as well as to partaking in the SUSI program. “This is my first trip to the U.S. and I am really excited,” he said. “I think this is also a very good opportunity for me to study in one place with the colleagues from different corners of the globe.”
Burfat is most excited for the media visits. “Some of the media names in the SUSI schedule really are like a big fantasy,” she said. “A dream seems (to be) coming true.”
Similarly, Callejas is looking forward to learning more about the Washington Post and being able to meet journalists and editors who work there. Stories from the paper were often used as examples of good investigative journalism in courses she took, so she said that seeing where it is published will be interesting for her.
During the various media visits, scholar Dzisah said he is interested in seeing how U.S. media outlets balance commercial and social needs by observing things such as ownership, independence, ideology and multiplicity. “I expect to see and assess a media landscape that truly attests to a free democratic nation,” he said.
Bogdana Nosova, a scholar from Ukraine, said she would like to know more about several aspects of the U.S. media, including the editing, planning and organization of the regional and national media, as well as the way that U.S. media handle international politics and information. “Participation in this SUSI program is unique opportunity to deepen my knowledge about (the) U.S. media system,” she said.
After the SUSI program is over, the scholars hope to quickly put their new knowledge to use.
Scholar Hugo Zarate, who is originally from Mexico but has spent several years working in the Bahamas and is representing the latter during SUSI 2012, wants to use what he learns in both his classroom and his personal projects. “I have a deep commitment to upgrade my knowledge and skills, and this is a great opportunity to do it,” he said.
Myssayeva, on the other hand, plans to publish an article about her experience upon her return to Kazakhstan.
Nguyen said she hopes to work with the SUSI program to build a course specifically about media and journalism in the U.S. at her university in Vietnam.
SUSI aims to help the scholars achieve those goals and more by celebrating internationalism, sharing culture and spreading knowledge through media and cultural visits, conferences, courses and more.
The scholars chosen for the 2012 program are from Afghanistan, Armenia, the Bahamas, Cameroon, China, El Salvador, Ghana, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Rwanda, Russia, Sudan, Suriname, Ukraine, Vietnam, Taiwan and Yemen.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
By Lindsay Boyle