Sunday, July 31, 2016

My SUSI spiritual experiences

Produced & Edited by Patrick Matbob
Madang, Papua New Guinea

When preparing to come to the US for the six-week Study of United States Institutions (SUSI) program, we were asked to state any specific needs for our host to consider. My request was that as a practicing Catholic, I would appreciate being shown the closest Catholic church in Athens, Ohio, so I could go there for worship on Sundays.
We arrived on Thursday June 30; 18 of us from 17 countries of the world. The first fellow SUSI scholar I met at Columbus airport was Zakaria Musah from Ghana. We were brought to our Riverside 604 apartment and met Daniel Superville from Uruguay. As we shared our evening meal prepared by Dr Jatin Srivistava from Ohio who would be one of our facilitators, Zakaria asked where the nearest mosque was. He was a practicing Muslim. I wanted to know where the nearest Catholic Church was however, forgot to ask.
At St Pauls, Athens.
And so on my first Sunday morning in Athens, I woke up realizing that I had no idea where to go for Sunday mass. Then I remembered that I had been in a similar situation before. Few years ago, I had been in Cape Town in South Africa and stayed at the Ritz hotel. I awoke on the Sunday morning in my room some 20 floors high. I decided to scan the city to see if I could locate a church steeple and a cross which usually indicates a Catholic church. I noted one which was near the hotel, got my bearings and went looking for it. I found it alright and join the congregation for mass. 
So I did the same at Athens. After whispering a prayer for divine help, I spied a steeple with a cross nearby and made a beeline for it. About 10 minutes later I found the church but it was a United Methodist church. I looked down the road and saw another church two blocks away. As I walked on, a familiar figure was coming up the road towards me. He was a professor from Ohio University whom I had met the night before at our welcome dinner. He had worked in Indonesia. We greeted each other and I said I was looking for a Catholic church. He smiled and indicated the church two blocks away. He said that was St Paul over there but the mass was over. But he added that I could go to Christ the King parish down the road for mass at 10 am.
On the way to Christ the King, I met a  priest also walking towards the church in his brown cassock and greeted him. I told him that I had just arrived three days ago and was looking for a Catholic church to worship. He said ‘wow’ like all Americans do when I told him I was from Papua New Guinea and welcomed me to mass.
When I came home, I learnt that my flat mate Daniel was also a Catholic and had been wondering where to go to mass that morning.
Daniel Superville
 And so we had been attending mass and receiving the Eucharist at both St Paul and Christ the King parish for the six weeks at Athens.
I heard two memorable sermons in both parishes.  On the second Sunday, the Gospel was about Martha and Mary. Mary chooses to listen to Jesus and Martha who is so concerned about waiting on Jesus, has no time to listen and complains that her sister was not helping her. The message from the sermon was that often our daily chores and responsibilities can keep us away from Jesus. Yet like Martha, we must be prepared to set aside time to listen to the Lord. The catch phrase from that sermon was "the need to be needed". As professors and teachers, we often demand perfection from our students and others, and judge them by their performances. Yet, each of our students, coming from their various backgrounds have individual experiences that can enrich us, if only we give them time, listen to them and show that each of them are needed.

The second sermon was about communication! The sermon urged us to ask the Lord for all our needs and not to be afraid for God listens to all our prayers. But of course, if we ask for "snakes and scorpions" – poisonous things that can kill us spiritually – God, like a loving parent, will not give it to us! How true.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Taste of Multifaceted American Cultures

Written and Edited by Rosette Leung, Hong Kong
Athens, OH – Sitting on a delayed flight from San Francisco to Ohio, what comes to the mind of the SUSI scholars? Time files. One week to leave Athens, the ‘home’ of the scholars. If every flight is an adventure, here is the journey of how the scholars experienced American cultures for their first time.
The first stop: Chillicothe
Tecumseh! The outdoor drama with real actors, horses, and gunfire effects was fascinating. Based on the scripts written by seven-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and Emmy recipient, Allan W. Eckert, the show performed in a valley of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Ohio was based on a true story about a Shawnee Chief Tecumseh who scarified his life for uniting the Indians and resisting the Americans during the 1790s.
In many countries, varieties of shows, operas and plays are very important cultural products for community revitalisation. In China, the Beijing opera, is a mixture of traditional culture and Chinese nationality. The Phantom of the Opera performs in the Her Majesty’s Theatre in London, is a European cultural representation of romance. 
Unlike the global popular operas showing in theatres, the Tecumseh drama is more realistic than many of the European plays. It informs local and international audiences about a rarely-known history of the Indian heritage in America. Although the show was  only part of the Ohio history, the resistance and integration of multi-cultural ethnicities have certainly contributed to the unification of the America.
The SUSI scholars took photos with the Tecumseh actors after the show. 
(Photo courtesy of SUSI program assistants)
The second stop: Cleveland
Drove away from the university and headed to a downtown with blocks of high buildings, Cleveland is an unfamiliar place to many scholars but most could recall the place won this year’s NBA championship, and Lebron James, a prominent NBA player, was the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the team Cleveland Cavaliers. But the journey to Cleveland was nothing to do with basketball. 
Out of many scholars' expectations, Cleveland has significant contribution to political development in the US. The Quicken Loans Arena, situated in the heart of Cleveland, was the venue that hosted the Republican National Convention (RNC) this July. Coincidentally, the SUSI scholars were given a chance to visit the media centre of the Convention Center just days before Melanie Trump delivered her suspicious plagiarised speech from Michelle Obama.
       A ‘corner’ of the RNC Media Centre in Cleveland.
Not far away is where the Ohio Statehouse situated – a government building where the Democrat delegates and the Republican delegates discuss bills and legislations of Ohio. The postmodern design of the Congress building and historical painting on walls adduced the doctrine of democracy and freedom of speech that are honoured from the past to the present. Journalists and journalism scholars, what are more precious than freedom to speak for themselves and the unprivileged? Sending a Tweet or a blog post just need a click in a second, but it is still not guaranteed in many countries across the world.
Do you know who are the philosophers in the left and the right statues?
The third stop: The Amish Country
Many scholars, including myself, were impressed by the American cultures in the Hollywood movies: modern, fancy, liberal, and a little bit crazy. But in Ohio, people are more dedicated in  preserving their traditional culture instead of promoting new culture. Dissimilar to the American culture demonstrated in the Hollywood movies, the Amish Country, which locates in the Holmes County of Ohio, has a unique culture that many scholars have never seen before. Most Amish people do not own cars, mobile phones and other electronic goods. The telecommunication and internet services were very weak and often disconnected. With very limited public and private cars, carriage is the major transport in the Amish Country, and  “totally unbelievable”  as described by many scholars. 
The Amish Country is a place with greenery.
By spending four days and three nights living and interacting with the Amish people, the SUSI scholars experienced a wonderful journey in the Amish Country – a journey that bought them back to the older centuries of America. Living without disturbances, the Amish lead a happy life in their little world. Lester Beachy, also the author of a book Our Amish Values, said, “we Amish people noticed the emergence of new technologies such as mobile phone and tablet computer, yet we decided not to take a step forward because face-to-face communication is what we treasured the most.”
A huge carriage displayed in the Amish Country museum. 
“Do Amish children receive education?”, “Can an Amish marry someone not from the US?”, “How do you kill time without mobile phone?” These are the questions asked by SUSI scholars who were curious about the community of the Amish people. They were very eager to know more about the identity, marriage, education and social security etc. of the Amish. Surprisingly, the Amish felt themselves living in a wealthy and healthy village. As a Chinese proverb says: “seize the day, and enjoy what it brings you”, in the minds of the Amish people, there is nothing more precious than living and enjoying lives with their beloved ones.
The Amish are also called the Pennsylvania Dutch.
The fourth stop: The Little Cities of Black Diamonds
The Little Cities of Black Diamond in Shawnee took around 30 minutes’ drive from the Ohio University. With only around 600 people of populations, the SUSI scholars took an adventurous journey to the early coal mines in Ohio. Some SUSI scholars were disappointed when they see no mines and mining activities in Shawnee, but they later realised that heavy pollutions and fatal accidents due to early mining activities were buried and mourned in abandoned mining sites and graves of African-American who were once the forerunners in labor union movements in Ohio. Like travelled through a time tunnel, SUSI scholars visited the Robinson’s Cave and the New Straitsville Moonshine Company, some of them enjoyed samples of distillations produced by the Shawnees.
A SUSI scholar tried the distillations produced at the New Straitsville Moonshine Company.
To battle with the fading population and the missing pieces of history, some warm-hearted Shawnees have made use of the social media sites, such as Facebook and blog to inform the ‘outsiders’ about their life histories and efforts in conserving the natural scenes in Shawnee. Though setting up an archive for preserving Shawnee’s history takes time, the social media do help a lot for connecting the Little Cities of Black Diamonds to the outside world, including the Ohio University and the SUSI scholars.
The Robinson’s Cave in New Straitsville, Ohio.
"New" Linda Theater established in 1930s. Movies were displayed with motion and sound. 
The fifth stop: San Francisco
San Francisco has long been named and regarded by the Chinese as the ‘Longstanding Gold Mountain’ for remembering the history that many Chinese migrated to San Francisco to join the gold rush in California. According to Wikipedia, a division of Wikimedia Foundation, the Voice of America and the State of Federal Government are still using the name ‘Longstanding Gold Mountain’, but this name has not been mentioned on the Wikipedia page about San Francisco in English. Clever SUSI scholars noticed about the lost in translation on Wikipedia, yet the speakers from Wikipedia denied the differences in translation have bought much inconsistency in content, and they emphasised that zero censorship has been imposed on the open and collaborative site.
The SUSI scholars listened attentively to the speeches of Wikimedia representatives.
If Wikipedia is a giant online encyclopaedia, the San Francisco Giants is a giant of the Major League Baseball (MLB) teams. SUSI scholars were so excited to be toured in the AT&T Park. The Park is famous as it is the ‘home’ of the MLB Giants. Although there was no match in the park during the day of visit, the scholars were able to see the live report centre, hotel rooms, and press conference room etc. in the park – all of them represent the growth of sports marketing contributed to the globalization of sports. But sports journalism, a profession that rely on truth and accuracy, continues to serve as a major information provider about the news of the Giants.
AT&T Park – outside view
AT&T Park – part of the inside view
Similar to Hong Kong, San Francisco is a cosmopolitan city that welcome people from a multicultural background, and is one of the largest and most famous LGBT communities in the world. The SUSI journey in San Francisco ended with a mouse and the sea (Pier 39). The Walt Disney Family Museum displayed the works of Walt Disney, and explained how different Disney characters were created. From Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, to Pinocchio, Three Little Pigs and Cinderella, almost every Disney character in the museum has ‘grown up’ with the Americans, as well as the children in the rest of the world (including me again).

Every scholar must have read a number of publications that accused the conglomeration of Disney was an expansion of U.S. soft power. There were long criticisms in academia regarding Americanisation, cultural industry and hegemony. In the U.S., Disney is a giant company producing forms of entertainment. But in the eyes of millions of people around the world, Disney is the representative of America popular culture.
A Liberty Magazine cover with Mickey Mouse in 1942, a year during the WWII.
From traditional to modern, from rural to cosmopolitan, the SUSI Program has opened a door for the journalism scholars from 18 countries to travel and to explore the multifaceted American cultures.

Next station: Atlanta. Ready to leave in 3 hours. Sleepy but feel excited.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Just a simple story

Produced & edited by Daniel Supervielle
Montevideo, Uruguay.

Alberto Caló was the father of a good friend of my golden days. We went to college together. Caló was older than my father. In those years of the second half of the eighties, when I was discovering myself, love and what to do with my life he told me that he used to know my grandfather Perico who died in 1972, when I was two years old. 

Alberto Caló was always reading big books while sitting in a big sofa. That is the picture I have in my mind of the man. I had very few conversations with him. He once told me that my grandfather helped him to arrange a very strange trip to Papua New Guinea at the early sixties. He disclosed that he was connected to a missionary at Papua New Guinea in the south Pacific very far away from my country; Uruguay using his short wave radio equipment. Once they got in touch they started a very strong and strange friendship that ended up with a visit of Alberto Caló to that remote island in Oceania. My grandfather, Perico, was then working as a diplomat for the Uruguayan government in Australia. The crazy sixties where roaring with rocknroll, free love and LSD.


My friend Pablo, left Uruguay, now lives in London with his family and is a very successful businessman. Shortly after his father died he gifted me a big white book written by his father. In that book I realized the kind of life and wisdom Alberto Caló had. I felt very stupid for not having more hours with him those days of my youth time. In the book, there are many chapters of his visit to Papua New Guinea with incredible pictures of people living in the jungle, in the mountains, far away from the civilization in which I grew.


When I received the confirmation that I had been selected by the SUSI program 2016 and saw the names and countries of my colleagues my eyes blinked for a second when I realized that I would be sharing six weeks with Patrick Matbob. Nothing more far away from Uruguay, in the south of South America, than Papua New Guinea, a country of 7 million people with more than 800 hundred languages, on the other side of the world. 

After I have arrived in Athens it resulted that Patrick and I would be together, sharing the department. After some beers and conversation, we became friends. We spoke about our countries, our lives and students, and finally at the end I told him the story of my friend's father Alberto Caló. Immediately I connected him in London using WhatsApp and he sent me immediatly the digitalized pictures of that amazing trip in the early sixties. Together we laid eyes on them and I received lots of information, stories and meanings of those amazing pictures taken by Alberto and his wife Vera at Papua New Guinea more than 50 years ago.


After we finished viewing the photos, I realized I had cancelled my personal debt with Alberto and with my past. Also, encouraged by Patrick`s kindness and friendship. I realized that as long as we are open to let destiny play it`s role, life will always have a new corner with better and mysterious things to come ahead.

Dinner in the USA

Produced & edited by Daniel Supervielle
Montevideo, Uruguay.

Food. Tons of food. Bread. Bacon. Eggs. More food. Soda. Sugar. Sauce. More bread. Chicken. Smashed potatoes. Pepsi. Sprite. More cheese. Subway. And more food. No chance to be hungry. Hamburgers. And sausages. And cake. Strawberry cake. Chocolate pie. Bread with garlic. Soup. Creams. More sugar. Honey. Corn flakes. French Bread. Chicken wings. Fried potatoes. And Coca Cola. Big size. ¿Do you want more? Bread. Meat. Pork. Cheese. Roast beef. Sugar. More bread. And cream. ¿Do you want more cream? Eat. Eat. Eat. And bread with butter. And more food. No matter if you are hungry. Eat. More food. And more food. And cream and sugar. And bread. And fried potatoes with vinaigrette and pasta. Pasta with some mushrooms. And sugar. Honey. Natural. Fat milk. Maize. Porridge. Sugar and bread. And also extra cream with nuts. Cashew. More food. Millions of tons of food. Salad. Bread. More bread. Bacon. Fried bacon. Rice. Forgotten de rice. Rice with pieces of lamb. Orange juice. Banana juice and hamburger with cheese and bread. Double size. Triple size. One more dollar extra. Food. More food. I`m not hungry. Eat. Bread with sugar and cakes of tomatoes with soup of bacon with garlic and coca cola with cream of nuts and fried potatoes with boiled eggs and cheese with a strawberry pie and ice cream on the top. Food. Eat. Eat. Eat. Eat.

Time is on their side

Produced and edited by Daniel Supervielle
Montevideo, Uruguay

The visit to the Amish Country in the State of Ohio was really weird. In the middle of a prosperous agricultural region of the richest country in the world, a group of religious people live without electricity, ride on buggies, use no cellular phone and don´t even consider the chance that Charles Darwin might have been right. They don´t vote, harvest the crops with their own hands and have a strong sense of belonging to their religion and community. 

The pastor Lester Beachy received my colleagues and I from SUSI 2016 one beautiful sunny morning at the beginning of the summer. The land that surrounded us was green. And the light was clear and pure. We could feel the clear air gently blowing at our faces while in the road nearby carriages pulled by beautiful horses rode their way back home with blue eyed blond boys and girls saluting us. 

I felt a sense of double feelings. 

How can this people live in the XXI century? They spoke about time. Ruby, the calm old lady that spoke to us before the wise pastor said that they choose how to live time, they own time, "Time doesn´t rule our lives, we decide".

They looked happy, grateful, at peace. They explained that the decisions where taken by the community. All together they decide what to adapt from our modern societies. But time. Time was the issue. One might have thought that they are lost in time. That they are a rarity of crazy religious fanatics, too afraid to cope with the present. But she stated the issue very clear: “we decide how to live time, we don´t let time to control our lives”. 

And yes, immediately I thought of the hyper connected world in which we live: Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, WhatsApp, et al  constantly bombing ourselves with instant crap.  At that time the world was on fire: five policemen where shot in Dallas and the United States was living a very controversial presidential campaign while in Europe the problem with terrorism and migration and de Brexit was telling that the world was unease with itself. 

But in the Amish country we only saw smiles, conviction in their beliefs and the sense that no matter what goes on in the world they will survive because they handle the speed of time with all its consequences. Of course we didn´t visit the dark side of the moon of the Amish country, but that was not the purpose. 

The Amish people are very strong economically speaking and their communities are growing in the United States and outside. “We are actually purchasing land in Bolivia”, they explained. More than 85% of the kids born Amish stay Amish. They have an average of six children per marriage and it all makes sense for them. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, Periscope, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Breaking News, Big Data… big loneliness. 

Yes. Speaking about time Rubi said that the elder die at home, surrounded by their beloved ones. By the families. They respect the time lived and the wisdom of those who brought the community so far away. Never leave one of our`s alone is the rule. They might not give a chance to Darwin, might not know how to send an e-mail and probably don’t imagine the world is on fire, but they know how to respect their old people. They decide how and at what pace to live their own lives and own the time to give those with long age. Must admit I wished I had no I-phone - as a matter of fact I have two - and desired I could be the one and only owner of my time.

But I guess it is too late.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Minds together: Shine bright like a diamond

It is known for those who are involved in the precious stones business and even those who are non-experts but diamonds lovers, that the more faces may diamond has the more expensive, glittering and brighter it would be. This fact is typically true not only in this context, but it is also pretty correct in human communication interaction and brain storming sessions. I always assume that as much as the only one face stone is cheap and dark, the one direction conversation and uni-voice dialogue is worthless and invaluable.  

Speak up, I want to hear you!

It is fine to remember "Read all about it" of Emile Sande, my favourite singer, saying: "You've got the words to change a nation but you're biting your tongue, you've spent a life time stuck in silence afraid you'll say something wrong, if no one ever hears it how we gonna learn your song, So come on .. come on", every time we gather as SUSI scholars to have a new knowledge or visit any place I just think about these words again and again, discovering the the beauty of multiplicity and the improvement potentials that are reflected through conversations and listening to different voices from various perspectives.

Focus group discussion

When we talk together at the same point, each one of us add new face to the reality, exactly as adding new faces to the diamond to become brighter and more glittering. I have the same hope every time to listen to more and more voices, so that the ideas in my mind become clearer and brighter. I believe that allowing more voices to speak and giving them all equal opportunity to say what they want is the right way to make our life richer and human even if we are completely disagree with them. The unexpected irony is that we all discovered that areas of similarities, in almost everything, are wider than we thought previously. We become happy of the same things, and upset from same circumstances, laughing of the same joke, respecting same good values, and even tasting and liking same food! Eventually, I am absolutely convinced that respectfulness of difference, whatever it might be, is our only way to survive.  

Friends wherever you go 

The beauty of difference is in its ability to make those who are convinced that it is must to coexist are willing more than others to change themselves and make what they think are necessary adjustments in their behaviour or feelings, these changes would not be happened without this conviction.
 From Hong kong, sudan, Estonia, Romania, Ecuador, Uruguay, Tunisia, Egypt, Malta, Papua New Genie, Ghana, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Russia, Mongolia, Nepal, the scholars built bridges of rapport and understanding to connect their hearts and minds and preserve the connections to keep friendship in all countries of the world and let the diamond shines bright.


Produced & Edited by:
 Fatma El-zahraa M. Elsayed

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Similarities and Differences


Travelling to a new place always fascinates me. I was more curious than excited to visit United States. I only had a vague idea and assumptions of how the land of dreams and opportunities would be in reality. However, I realized US is completely different than what I had assumed it to be.  As I looked down from the plane on the way to Columbus I observed not only skyscrapers but also towns full of greenery. The greenery in the town was similar to that of my village. But the difference was that it was well planned with spacious land and wide roads. Vehicles moved in the speed which I can't imagine in my country.

 I visited USA as guest in Ohio University from Nepal. When our plane landed at Columbus and I moved inside the airport, I searched for the person who was there to receive me. I saw Dr. Yusuf Kalyango, Director of SUSI program with a bright smile and I waived at him. He welcomed me with a warm handshake and an embrace.
Kalyango looked quite simple and humble .In Nepal seniors always maintain a distance with juniors and rarely treat them as friends. They always seek respect and attention. However, Kalyango’s friendly behavior impressed me a lot. I noticed immediately that his assistants were calling him just Dr.K or Yusuf. 
Later we boarded a van to Athens, Ohio and I observed that we were moving in the right lane of the road. In Nepal, vehicles move from the left.  
It was already dark when we reached Ohio University and I was exhausted after 15 hours of travel. After a quick meal Dr. Jatin gave us the key and guided us to the apartment. Before me other three people had already chosen their rooms and two of them were already asleep. When I entered the room Zak from Ghana welcomed me.
The next morning I met Daniel from Uruguay .We introduced each other and went for morning walk. Later after we came back, I got to know Patrich from Papuwa New Guinea. The four of us were from different continents of the world, having different skin colors, diverse language and culture and dissimilar religion but we shared the same apartment and attended the same program. We all represented our countries. We were of different age groups but our professions were similar.

Gradually we started to mingle and talk about our culture, society and even the personal matters. We discovered that our problems are similar, our pains are similar. We started cooking inside our apartment. The ingredients we used were almost similar but cooking methods were different, smell and taste of food were different bme. Zac is Muslim, Patrich and Daniel are Christian and I belong to Hindu religion but we all are humans with similar emotions. Somehow, we all are connected; we are different but also the same so we are together now.
 We are 19 scholars for the SUSI program, from different walks of life but we are friends here. We feel comfortable to call each other by our first names. We value each other's differences and assimilate with similarities.

I am grateful to SUSI for this wonderful life time experience.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

'Necessary Disclosures'

Posted by - 
Mausumi Bhattacharyya
Centre for Journalism &Mass Communication (CJMC)
Santiniketan, WB, India

Oh OHIO !! It has been an incredible journey so far. Have settled down in this beautiful county of Ohio, Athens. Extremely jet lagged but thoroughly excited, bit hesitant and tremendously curious  - explains my state of mind, when I met the SUSI Program Director. Professor Yusuf Kalyango himself at the Colombus-Ohio airport. The warm welcome by him and his wonderful team made me feel at home immediately. Three weeks have flown past till then. Going through an experience of life-time – spectacular campus, my amazing SUSI colleagues and exchange of ideas with them, visiting wonderful places, gathering loads of information and oh, last but not the least , my two friends with whom I am sharing the apartment – calm and quiet Amel from Sudan and cute, naughty Signe from Estonia, always bubbling with energy!
I thought I have seen the best, but wait, what I saw in the collection of the Alden Library of Ohio University, literally bowled me over. An amazing employee of  the library showed us the ‘Treasure House’ and explained in details regarding the library resources. Being the book-worm I am and a cricket buff ( like any other true Indian), I got glued to a ball like structure in the archive. A ball-shaped, purple-coloured, paper-made stuff, which was kept in a square glass box. The kind lady, in charge of same explained to me what it was and I got perplexed! It was a book!! Yes, a book!

'Necessary Disclosures' kept in a square glass box

The 'ball' book !!

The title is 'Necessary Disclosures'. Author is Sarah Peters. The book has been published by Women’s Studio Workshop in 2003. It's a 3.5*3.5*3.5 inches spherical book made with letterpress on cast cloth. It is attached with book cloth and hook-and-loop fastener and when it gets opened, one can see six nested pages of text. The book is about the relationship of our way of interpersonal interactions with the way we interact as an institution. Sarah Peters has raised questions in relation to our 'private' and 'public' behaviours and also showed connections between our private life with the global arena.

Nested pages of the 'wonder book'

‘Necessary Disclosures’ is a great example of creativity at its best! Both in terms of content as well as the design.

I am grateful to my SUSI journey for experiencing such a wonderful book! Waiting eagerly to share the info with my students and scholars back in India.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Say ‘SUSI’

Written and Edited by Rosette Leung
Hong Kong

Athens, OH – Have you ever been to Ghana? South Africa? Egypt? Mongolia? PNG? The SUSI program this year involves 18 scholars (and me) from countries all over the world. This perhaps is the first time for most scholars to meet people from such a multicultural background. In the Ohio University, ‘SUSI’ not only refers to The Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSIs) of Journalism and Media, but also symbolises a tiny community that is formed outside the 18 countries’ national boundaries.

The best choice of word for describing the SUSI program, perhaps, is globalisation. 18 scholars travelled from countries miles away to the US, and gratefully, sharing the same language – English. Introducing oneself looks easy, but it can be very difficult if you are asked to introduce yourself to people who come from countries you have never heard about.

Given lots of opportunities to introduce themselves, scholars quickly adapted to a new community called “SUSI”. Names such as Patrick, Daniel, Joanna, Kaman, Jorge and Marina are common and easy to be remembered, but there were names uniquely representing the culture of a country, such as Sofiene, Signe, Thapa, Batzor, Ashfara, Mausumi, Nahria and Fatma. These ‘uncommon’ names in the West became meaningful with their life stories and cultural background exemplified with the self-introductions among scholars.

SUSI scholars introduced themselves for the first time during orientation.(Photo courtesy of program assistants of SUSI)

Mikson Senong, scholar from the South Africa, with his inspector hat and badge from home country. (Photo courtesy of program assistants of SUSI)

The Study of the U.S. Institutes (SUSIs) on Journalism and Media is a summer institute funded by the U.S. Department of State and hosted by the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, Ohio University. Director of Institute of International Journalism Prof. Yusuf Kalyango, is the program director and Prof. Mary Rogus is the academic director of the program.

Scholars and professional journalists from 18 countries, namely: South Africa, Mongolia, Tunisia, Egypt, Hong Kong China, Romania, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ghana, Papua New Guinea, Uruguay, Nepal, India, Estonia, Sudan, Russia and Melta travelled to the U.S. for participating in the six-week SUSI program from June to August. In addition to classes conducted in the Ohio University, these scholars travelled to Cleveland, Chillicothe, Amish Country, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Washington D.C.

SUSI scholars visited the Republican National Convention venue in Cleveland.

Lifelong learning is embraced in Hong Kong and many countries of the world during recent decades. One of the scholars, Mausumi Bhattacharya from India, said this is the first time for her to live and study with people from so many different cultural backgrounds.

One of the favourite activities the SUSI scholars enjoyed the most was EATING.

“I met people with multicultural background in a number of academic conferences before, but I have never given a chance to stay in the same place with them. SUSI is such a wonderful experience for me to interact with intelligent and high-status journalism scholars and professionals from all over the world," Bhattacharya said.

She added that many academics in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism have strong academic and research background, the SUSI program was definitely a bright start for her inter-scholar exchanges and understanding of the U.S. media system.

Tom Rosenstiel, co-author of The Elements of Journalism, lectured the SUSI scholars via Skype.

“Make it connect”, one of the mottos of the Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University, has been apparently realized in the SUSI program. Two weeks have passed since the scholars first met, a true relationship between scholars and scholars, as well as scholars and academics of the Scripps School, has been vigorously built among the tiny SUSI community, and in this Schoonover Center for Communication.

Motto on the pillar of the E.W. Scripps School of Communication.

Postscript: “Say ‘SUSI’” was a calling by Prof. Mary Rogus for inviting scholars to smile during photo taking. She was excited to meet her ex-student Katy at the RNC venue.