Sunday, July 6, 2014

A SUSI scholar’s diary

By CHIU Lai Yu Bonnie, Hong Kong (SUSI scholar 2014)

Today is 5 July, 2014. It is the 17th day of my sabbatical to the United States under the 2014 program of the “Study of the United States Institute of Scholars on Journalism and Media” (SUSIs). I just cannot believe that time has been flying by so swiftly. I am now sitting in my quiet and neat room on the campus of Ohio University, facing the vast green view outside of my window, writing this piece and recollecting of my sweet memories regarding my experience under the SUSIs program funded by the United States’ Department of State.

Thank God! I am truly grateful and honored for the fact that I have been chosen to participate in this wonderful program.
Before coming here, I thought it would just be a program which covered several lectures relating to the United States’ media and journalism industry and their current challenges. More or less, I anticipated that it would be a purely academically oriented kind of exchange program only. Obviously, I was totally wrong. It is much more than that……

The program itself is very well-designed, comprehensive and innovative. Professor Yusuf  Kalyango, Professor Mary T. Rogus, Professor  Bill Reader and Professor Jatin Srivastava, the soul of the program, have been extremely kind to us. We were given pocket money to spend on food, money for ordering books or electronic devices (thanks to the Department of State, of course) etc. I went to my room and I had even found shampoo and showering gel there. I opened the refrigerator where I had found grapes and power bars. We got 2 big vans to drive us to the places that we were interested in outside of just academic relevant locations. I felt very touched that they were so thoughtful! All of the program assistants: Camilo, Chu, Luke, Ashley, Kingsley, Kay-Anne, Nisha were very helpful and good natured!

We have about 4-5 lectures each day.  We have been assigned a research partner to assist us in forming a research idea. My research partner Professor Kevin Grieves is a very kind and experienced scholar. He comes from the profession and has been giving me great and inspiring ideas about my research topic: “The right to be forgotten”.  One of the speakers, Professor Duncan Brown, has also given me some valuable advice relating to the topic. We have also been guided to doing good quality research work, writing articles for prestigious journals and been guided on how to have our own publications successfully granted etc. I treasured every minute of every lecture.

 I have been teaching for about 3 years now. It’s a very good time for me to learn something new from the United States and other colleagues coming from some 17 other countries. Every colleague’s country media system was examined and thoroughly discussed. We talked about collaboration such as by using Skype to teach, sending students to different universities for an exchange program etc. We are very excited about having different and new ideas for our future teaching.

Apart from the academic and research part, life in here is fun and inspiring.
I went jogging several times a week along the cycling path in Ohio’s wonderful campus. The campus was so beautiful that I felt like I was in a movie scene. I went to the cinema to watch “Grand Budapest Hotel” with some colleagues. We went to the farmer’s market for buying fresh food, to the “Donkey Coffee” for coffee, to Casa Nueva for brunch, to a Chinese restaurant for a buffet, to a sushi restaurant for Japanese noodles, to a Lebanese restaurant for gyros, the variety goes on!  Our dining together, laughing together, has allowed us to bond as friends and colleagues.

Ohio University is a famous “party” campus. There’s no doubt that I have experienced its party culture: it was fun to dance with many SUSI colleagues in the kitchen when we were having a house party at Jatin’s home after drinking a lot of Borscht, famous Russian soup made by my SUSI colleague Inna from Russia. It was unforgettable to sit on the top of the van arranged for us with my colleague Brenda from Zambia and Nargiza from Kyrgyzstan to see the fireworks at 10 pm at Nelsonville on the 4th of July Celebration. It was a wonderful evening at Mary’s house before the fireworks for a big cook-out and extra special thanks to Mary’s culinary wizardry – I am still thinking about it (and I will for a long time!). If possible, one day when Mary has the time, I shall try to sneak a few recipes from her. We were so happy that some of us had even tasted the wax or candle, which was supposed to be used for repelling mosquitoes by mistake. It was amazing to sit on Bill’s farm, enjoying the sunset while eating his home-made Cajun fish fillets. It was an eye-opening experience to sit with Yusuf to see the Tecumseh Outdoor Historical Drama. The color of the sky changed gradually during the whole drama and the sound of the canon pounded my heart!!! Too many happy moments to mention them all! I smiled every night before going to sleep……

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