Saturday, September 1, 2012

SUSI 2012 wraps up in Washington, D.C.

By Lindsay Boyle

The 2012 Study of the U.S. Institute (SUSI) on Journalism and Media program concluded on Aug. 17 in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.

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.

OU has successfully hosted the program for three consecutive years.

The SUSI scholars spent their last four days in D.C., where they visited a variety of both media and cultural locations, as well as attended a debriefing at the U.S Department of State.

Media visits included tours of and discussions at NPR, The National Geographic headquarters and museum, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Voice of America (VOA), and The Newseum.

At NPR, for example, the scholars talked to digital news editor Erica Ryan — who is an OU alumna — about political and international coverage, as well as issues regarding bias and objectivity.

SUSI scholars pose outside NPR with digital news editor Erica Ryan.

Scholar Dr. Murad Abdullah said the visits to The National Geographic and to Voice of America were his favorites. He said he especially enjoyed an exhibit at the National Geographic Museum that displayed many videos and materials about Muslim inventions and discoveries between the ninth and 11th centuries.

Abdullah said he found Voice of America to be interesting because he did not know there was a U.S. radio station devoted solely to broadcasting to the rest of the world.

“I came to know that (Voice of America) is targeting particular countries to preach and promote some of the U.S. values and principles,” he said.

The scholars also visited many cultural landmarks and buildings in Washington, D.C., including the White House, the Capitol Building, monuments and Smithsonian museums.

On Thursday, Aug. 14 — the scholars’ final day in the United States — they traveled to the U.S. Department of State to undergo a final evaluation of the 2012 SUSI program, and to receive their certificates of completion. Kevin Orchison, program officer for the Study of the U.S. Branch of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, conducted the informal evaluation and handed out the certificates.

Several of the scholars said that the evaluation went well, including Abdullah.

“I enjoyed the discussion with members of the State Department as they showed great concern — first, to understand the possible problems we might have encountered and, second, to take our comments seriously in order to develop the program in the coming years,” he said.

On Thursday evening, the scholars shared Ethiopian cuisine during a farewell dinner at a restaurant in Georgetown — a historic district in D.C. filled with shops, restaurants and other entertainment. Toward the end of the night, each of the scholars stood up and gave a farewell speech to an attentive audience.

Abdullah described the farewell dinner as bittersweet, because he enjoyed the company of the SUSI scholars and the program directors and assistants, but was sad to know it was the last time they would all be together.

“The speeches delivered were influential, and it was hard to see some colleagues shedding tears in that farewell dinner,” he said. “I consider my participation and involvement in the SUSI program the best experience that has ever happened to me.”

SUSI scholars enjoy a farewell dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant in Georgetown.

During the 2012 SUSI program, two newsletters, called Global Spotlight, were created to help capture the scholars’ experiences.

To view the July issue, click here.
To view the August issue, click here.

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