Monday, July 30, 2012

Whirlwind tour: Cleveland, Amish Country and Pittsburgh

By Lindsay Boyle

During the second week of the program, the SUSI scholars visited cultural and media locations in Cleveland and Sugarcreek, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, Pa.

The SUSI summer institute — in which scholars from all over the world come to the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at OU 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.

Cleveland, Ohio

The first stop of the adventure in Cleveland began on Sunday, July 15, at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where the scholars were led by what SUSI academic director Mary Rogus called “great docents.” The scholars were all smiles as they left the building, although some had said they enjoyed it so much that they did not want to leave.

Scholar Rachael van der Kooye, from Suriname, said that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was her favorite part of the entire tour. She said she enjoyed learning that many modern songs and music styles are actually derived from rock and roll.

“I liked it because I could, for the first time, read the history of rock and roll. I could see all of those famous singers and I could read their stories,” she said. “The time was not enough to read all of their wonderful stories.”


SUSI scholars exit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

Afterward, the SUSI scholars enjoyed dinner at the Barley House in Cleveland’s historic Warehouse District. Some scholars tried some U.S. foods, such as wings, for the first time.

Monday began with a tour of the WOIO/WUAB-TV station. The tour was followed by a meeting with news personnel, including News Director Dan Salamone, to discuss news approach.

The topics of the discussion ranged from access issues, to gift policy (no gifts can be accepted by journalists at WOIO), to the effect of ratings on news coverage.

Dr. Alexsandr Kazakov, the scholar from Russia, said that the tour of WOIO/WUAB-TV was a “good opportunity to get to know something new.”

“It was very exciting to see a TV station working live,” he said.


SUSI scholars Trang Nguyen, Hugo Zarate and Dr. Huei Lan Wang sit a the WOIO broadcasting desk, while scholars Taimoor Noori and Dr. Aysha Abughazzi look on.

After the SUSI scholars took a break for lunch, they visited the office of the historically African American Call and Post newspaper, where they met with managers, reporters, editors and more.

There, the conversation focused on multicultural media. The SUSI scholars asked Call and Post staff members about things such as their coverage of the 2008 presidential election, and what kind of investigative reporting they do.


SUSI scholar Dr. Huei Lan Wang poses with a copy of the Call and Post newspaper.

In response to the latter, Call and Post staff members explained that they try to do investigative reporting that will be helpful to the community. For example, they were heavily involved in investigating the disappearances of 11 Cleveland women, whom, it turned out, had all been killed by Anthony Sowell. He has since been sentenced to the death penalty.

The SUSI scholars spent most of Monday evening using free time to explore Cleveland, and then traveled to Sugarcreek, Ohio — the next leg of their journey.

Amish Country — Sugarcreek and Berlin, Ohio

Tuesday morning, the SUSI scholars spoke with three Amish about their religion, community and lifestyle. The scholars then met with editors and the publisher of The Budget newspaper, which reports about happenings in national and international Amish communities, often by using community journalism.


SUSI scholars discuss news coverage with The Budget Editor-in-Chief, Keith Rathbun.

After shopping, eating and exploring in Sugarcreek, the SUSI scholars headed to another Amish town — Berlin, Ohio.

In Berlin, they visited the Amish-Mennonite Heritage Center, which boasts an almost 270-foot-tall mural-in-the-round that depicts Amish history and culture since 1525, when the Amish way of life was just beginning.

The day ended with a dinner provided by the Rotary Club of Sugarcreek. Rotary International is a service organization that has local chapters in cities throughout the world. Rogus described the dinner as being full of “great conversations and delicious fried chicken.”

Kazakov described Amish Country as a “very unusual place,” and said that it was “the strongest impression of the United States” he has had thus far.

“Amish people live in such a different way,” he said. “In fact, after visiting Sugarcreek, I understood how diverse America is.”

Dr. Murad Abdullah, the scholar from Yemen, also enjoyed Amish Country, describing it as “distinguished” and “worthwhile.”

“You can find skyscrapers and high buildings in every city in the world,” he said. “But the Amish Country is remarkably distinguished because you can’t find such people or such culture in any other parts of the world, except in this area.”

He further explained that people in his country do not hear about places such as Amish Country from the media. Though the United States is always portrayed as diverse, he explained that that diversity is only shown to exist among modernity, not in rustic areas.

Pittsburgh, Pa.

The SUSI scholars spent Wednesday morning traveling to Pittsburgh. Shortly after their arrival, they shopped for several hours at the Ross Park Mall.

“I see SUSI scholars with big shopping bags,” Rogus said via Twitter. Jokingly, she added, “The trip to Pittsburgh’s Ross Park Mall may mean we’ll need another van to get home.”

In the evening, they partook in shopping, entertainment and dining in Station Square. Some of the SUSI scholars even rode a trolley up the Incline Railway to obtain a scenic view of Pittsburgh from the top of Lookout Mountain.


SUSI scholars Divine Bisong and Guoping He pose with OU professor Dr. Aimee Edmondson in front of the Pittsburgh skyline.

On the final day of the cultural tour, the SUSI scholars visited the Andy Warhol Museum to learn about the effect its namesake had on U.S. pop culture.

During the tour of the museum, the scholars heard from a Warhol — Andy’s nephew.

Kazakov said that he enjoyed the museum “to some extent.”

“I can’t say that I love this kind of pop culture, but even so, it was very interesting in terms of the influence Andy Warhol had on American life,” he said.

Scholar van der Kooye did not like Warhol’s art. However, she still wrote an article on her blog about him because she wanted to learn more about his importance.

“I didn’t know him and I’d never heard of him, but there was a bridge named after him, and there was a whole museum — three levels of Andy Warhol,” she said. “I asked myself, ‘Why was the man so famous?’”

The very last stop of the trip occurred in Pittsburgh’s historic Strip District, where scholars ate and bought ethnic foods, such as tabouleh and hummus, and viewed old architecture.

1 comment:

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