After five summers of teaching abroad with ieiMedia, I’ve seen students take different approaches to the study-abroad experience. Some mostly stick with their compatriots; others dive into the local community, seeking out cultural challenges.
Many of our students have described their experiences overseas as life-changing, but each year a few adventurous students get a little more out of it than others. Here are a few things I’ve learned from them:
1) Be curious. Studying – and, even more, reporting — abroad gives you the opportunity to peak behind the curtain of people’s lives. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Inquire about customs, foods, fashions and traditions that seem foreign to you. Most of the time locals are happy to share their culture with you.
2) Get to know your interpreters. Many of the ieiMedia interpreters are local students who are eager to practice their English and translation skills with visiting journalists. They can also offer a special window into their culture. One summer in Jerusalem, an interpreter invited me and a student to her family’s Old Jerusalem home to share the iftar break fast, the meal when Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. Over the course of that dinner of chicken and yellow, spice-infused rice, it became clear that though the family lived in a predominantly Jewish city, the American student and I were the first Jewish people to ever visit their home. The interpreter’s mother and I didn’t speak each other’s language but, communicating through the young interpreter, we were able to forge a profound bond.
3) Become a regular. One of the biggest differences between touring and living in a community is that you get a chance to get to know regular people – not just hotel clerks and tour guides but shopkeepers and baristas. In each place I’ve taught, I’ve tried to develop a relationship with local people. In Perpignan, it was with the woman who ran the produce store near my apartment. As my French improved we would have simple chats about her cat and what fruits were best that day. In Jerusalem, I developed a fondness for the fresh halva sold at Halva Kingdom in the Machane Yehuda Market, where the proprietor and I would debate which was the best flavor of the sesame candy – pistachio, cashew, chocolate or coffee.
4) Network like crazy. In most ieiMedia programs, students have an opportunity to meet with local and international media professionals. But each summer a few students go beyond the routine smile and handshake and parlay those meetings into professional opportunities. One summer in Urbino, San Francisco State University photography student Giovanna Borgna published photographs with the local newspaper, il Resto del Carlino. In 2013, Amara McLaughlin of Mt. Royal University published a story and photos in The Jerusalem Post. Maya Shwayder, another Jerusalem student, so impressed the Post editors that she became the newspaper’s correspondent in New York and at the United Nations after she returned home. You can read her work on the newspaper’s website.
Taksim Square in Istanbul was jammed with protestors as summer 2013 approached. Our students in international reporting were scheduled to arrive in mid-June. Unlike many study abroad programs conducted from the relative safety of overseas campuses, our journalism students were involved in an experiential program that emphasized reporting from the community.
While no parents or students expressed any concern to us, some on our faculty were uneasy. Are we putting our students in harm’s way?
The ieiMedia advance party, including our program director and a faculty member, reported back that beyond Taksim Tquare life was normal and peaceful in Istanbul. They even walked through Taksim Square and reported that the atmosphere and action was much calmer than the daily images crowding TV screens back in the U.S.
Any decision on the safety of a program should not be based on the tunnel vision provided by the market demands of American media. We not only rely on first-hand observations, but we are governed by the U.S. State Department’s warning system about travel to particular countries.
For our students, being in Istanbul at this time was a bonanza. They could compare for themselves the exaggerated coverage in the media to the actual situation on the ground. They nibbled at the edges of Taksim, under faculty supervision, and engaged protest leaders in depth interviews well away from the action. And they balanced their approach with reports showing how other issues continue to concern Istanbul citizens beyond the noise of Taksim. The incredible stories they produced can be found at our 2013 project site, The Battle for Istanbul.
As we prepare for 2015, once again we are observing Istanbul and Israel very closely. For instance, we know that in Jerusalem, like Istanbul, the action is limited to small geographic pinpoints. TV (Tunnel Vision) makes the situation seem larger than life, but of greater concern are individual, private acts of violence between citizens. We have the option to make program adjustments that keep us mostly on the Hebrew University’s highly secure campus and to function in areas far from the conflict zones.
The fact that our students can be so productive in a stressful environment speaks volumes on their resumes. But most important, such programs challenge them to rise above the usual soft features to get at the underlying problems in a society. This is experiential learning at its best.
What happens when American Hip Hop fuses with the vibrant nightlife of Florence, Italy? You get an international vibe, a celebration of black music, dance, and street poetry reborn in Tuscany’s premier city for culture and art.
Hip Hop adds a new vernacular to ieiMedia’s study abroad program. Under the guidance of award-winning journalism and theatre faculty from Winston Salem State, North Carolina Central, and Florida A&M, students will have a dual opportunity this summer to perform hip hop while studying and producing multimedia stories about it in text, video, photography, broadcast, and sound.
Students will learn the story-telling skills of foreign correspondents. And they will wander the piazzas, cobblestone streets, boutiques, and galleries of a city that has more astonishing architecture and art per square meter than any other in the world.
This unique study tour will balance intensive multimedia practice in a specialty track of a student’s choice (print, broadcast, photography and publication design, or video) with free time to research, perform, and savor this magnet of Renaissance culture.
Climb the red-roofed Duomo designed by architect Filippo Brunelleschi, then join us for an excursion to the hilly, sun-drenched vineyards of Tuscany for wine and food tastings. Study Michelangelo’s magnificent statue of David in the Galleria dell’Accademia. Wander to the Piazza della Signoria after a rainstorm, and visit the Uffizi Gallery guarded by Perseus and the Gorgon.
At dusk, take in the nightlife of Florence’s vibrant clubs and dance and report your heart away.
The program–including accommodation, travel insurance, welcome and farewell dinners, program activities and cultural events–costs $4,995 plus airfare. For more details, see our full course description.
Urbino 2012 student Laura Weeks is featured on a blog for her company. She describes the importance of her Urbino experience when responding to the question, “What’s one of your biggest accomplishments?”
“In 2012, I spent a month in Italy studying multimedia journalism. Not only was it my first time out of the country, but we were in a town where very little English was spoken. Despite these challenges, I sought out my own story idea and developed it across written, visual and audio platforms. Running around the city, scheduling interviews and photo shoots, late-night editing sessions — I loved every second of it. In the end, my photography was voted No. 1 and article among the top five by our faculty, which included a Pulitzer-winning reporter, a Washington Post photographer and a former New York Times art director.”
Check out the blog entry at: http://blog.magnetsusa.com/2014/11/faces-behind-magnets-part-19/
Laura’s job with Magnets USA includes photography, videography, design, writing and using social media to build connections.
- Stephanie Holguin (James Madison University), Urbino 2012, is a producer for NBC12/WWBT news in Richmond, Virginia.
- Myra Krieger-Coen (Iowa State University), Urbino 2013, is an audience engagement coordinator for Meredith Corporation, where she does social media strategy research and execution for Parenting.com, Parents Magazine andFitness Magazine.
- Elizabeth Zabel (Iowa State University), Urbino 2012, is a Multimedia Human Interest Reporter for The Gazette in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She works as part of the features team.
- Lindsey Kreger (James Madison University), Urbino 2011, is an editor at the Times-News in North Carolina. She lays out pages, edits copy, creates cutlines and headlines, edits photos and does fact checking.
- Caryn Maconi (University of Colorado at Boulder), Urbino 2011, is a Development Writer for the United States Olympic Committee. She writes athlete and impact feature stories to engage prospective donors and educate the public about the Olympic and Paralympic movements in the U.S.
- Robert Boag (James Madison University), Urbino 2011, is the Head Photographer for Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. He is charge of creating and managing the college’s visual identity and produces all photo and video content for their website.
- Jilanne Doom (University of South Dakota), Urbino 2012, works for IREX (TEA Pakistan Communications), a teaching excellence and achievement program run through the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan to bring groups of exceptional Pakistani secondary teachers to the U.S. for a training program. She covers all communication efforts through interviews, stories, multimedia projects and webinars.
- Grant Bell (James Madison University), Urbino 2011, is working in the film and television industry in L.A. He has found work as a production assistant on television shows and as a grip and camera assistant on short films.
If you’re planning to attend the Associated Collegiate Press/College Media Association National College Media Convention in Philadelphia Oct. 27-Nov. 2 and you or your students are interested in summer journalism study-abroad programs, you can meet with ieiMedia faculty at the convention.
IeiMedia program participants don’t just study abroad; they report on a community and then produce stories and videos for multimedia websites and digital magazines (see examples from last year’s programs in Northern Ireland, Italy, Israel, Spain, France, and Turkey.)
For summer 2015, ieiMedia is offering six international learning adventures:
- Valencia, Spain: narrative journalism
- Nice, France: multimedia journalism
- Jerusalem, Israel: international reporting
- Urbino, Italy: multimedia journalism, magazine journalism
- Armagh, No. Ireland: creative writing, multimedia journalism
- Istanbul, Turkey: international reporting, internships
Our programs are open to students and recent graduates from all schools. Over the past 12 years, ieiMedia has brought more than 600 students from more than 80 public and private schools abroad.
You can find out more about ieiMedia and meet some of the faculty during two presentations at the college media convention:
Don’t Just See the World, Cover It!
Friday, 9-9:50 a.m., Salon A, level 5
Do you fantasize about becoming a foreign correspondent? Hope to study abroad? Want to sharpen your multimedia savvy by covering some of the world’s most rural areas? Find out about work and study-abroad opportunities for students interested in media and journalism. See how you can enhance your professional skills, learn about culture and compassion and put a global spin on your resume that will give you a competitive edge as you launch your career.
Rachele Kanigel and Ida Mojadad, San Francisco State University
Dan Reimold, St. Joseph’s University
Jeff Brody, California State University, Fullerton
Foreign Correspondence and Student Media
Saturday, 2-2:50 p.m., Room 413, Level 4
Learn about students’ international reporting experiences, opportunities to practice international journalism in 2015, and how to incorporate international reporting into our student media program.
Steve Listopad, Valley City State University
Or you can contact one of the ieiMedia faculty attending the convention:
- Rachele Kanigel, (teaching this summer in Urbino, Italy), email@example.com @JourProf
- Dennis Chamberlin, (teaching this summer in Urbino, Italy), firstname.lastname@example.org
- Steve Listopad, (teaching this summer in London/Paris/Nice), email@example.com
- Jeff Brody, (teaching this summer in Valencia, Spain), firstname.lastname@example.org
Application Deadline: February 1, 2015. Students should apply as early as possible since admission is on a rolling basis. (Programs with available space will accept applications until March 30). Applications are available online.
This year ieiMedia is sponsoring the James Foley Memorial Scholarship in International Photojournalism in honor of the journalist tragically executed while covering the war in Syria. The winner of the $5,000 scholarship will attend our program in Urbino, Italy, to study with our award-winning photography faculty.
Hope to see you in Philadelphia!
An academic program is only as good as its faculty, which accounts for ieiMedia being the nation’s leading independent deliverer of international programs for journalism and communications students. Check out our faculty roster and you’ll see what I mean.
As an experiential program, our faculty is a healthy mix of 15 professionals (including two Pulitzer Prize winners, two National Magazine Award winners, and two winners of Overseas Press Club awards) and 29 academics, most tenured at various universities. The academics, who also have significant professional credentials such as Emmys, a Nieman fellowship, a George Polk award, and awards from the AP, UPI, and the Society of Professional Journalists, come from 21 universities.
As you peruse our staff roster, take note of a few names:
- Steve Anderson (James Madison University) designs and manages our web page in addition to directing the Urbino Program.
- Michael Gold (West Gold Editorial) manages our email marketing campaign to our own list of 6,000+ communications faculty and administrators. He is a National Magazine Award winner and also teaches in Urbino.
- Susan West (West Gold Editorial and the Food & Environment Reporting Network) manages our blog and teaches in Urbino. She has won a National Magazine Award and a Lowell Thomas award for best travel magazine.
- Rachele Kanigel (San Francisco State University) is the former Executive Director of ieiMedia and has taught in Urbino, Perpignan, and Jerusalem.
- Bob Marshall (our most senior instructor) is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, as is Dennis Chamberlin (Iowa State University). Both teach in our Urbino Program.
- Terri Ciofalo (University of Illinois) heads our Armagh Program and is a theater specialist.
Others to note are include:
- Michael Dorsher (University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire), Nice Program
- Jeff Brody (California State University Fullerton), Valencia Program
- Mary D’Ambrosio (Central Connecticut State), Istanbul Program
- Cathy Shafran (Oakland University), Jerusalem Program
First year hires at the Institute for Education in International Media are considered instructors; those who teach two to five years are Institute Fellows. The Senior Fellow designation goes to anyone with ieiMedia for five years or more.
Excerpted from “10 Tips for Training the Next Generation of Foreign Correspondents,” which appeared on the PBS education blog Mediashift on June 30, 2014.
Want to lead your own study-abroad program? Here are some tips:
1-Start early. It can take a year or more to make all the arrangements necessary for a faculty-led study-abroad program. You and the administrators you work with will have to arrange lodging, meeting or classroom space, transportation, guest speakers, tours, insurance, academic credit, possibly interpreters, and at least some meals.
2-Find an in-country partner. Look for a university or language school or a media, government or non-governmental organization based in the country that can help you work out the logistics. To start, search the web for other study-abroad programs based in the region you want to visit. Send out feelers to organizations that might want to work with you or help you find local partners.
3-Work with your international programs office and other administrators. Foreign travel makes college administrators nervous. Be prepared to fill out a lot of forms and get approval from multiple university bureaucrats before you can take a group of students out of the country. Double- and triple-check that you’ve gotten all the proper permissions and submitted all the necessary paperwork long before your departure date.
4-Plan orientation activities. Walking tours and scavenger hunts are good ways to help students get acquainted with a city, and small-group activities will help students get to know each other quickly.
5-Make contact with local news organizations. Try to arrange a tour of a local (or international) newspaper, news website, or TV or radio station or invite media professionals to speak to your group. Sometimes you can even arrange for students to shadow a reporter or do a mini-internship. Find out if the media organizations will consider publishing your students’ work. A local press club or journalism organization may also be of help.
6-Be flexible. While you need a concrete and carefully planned itinerary, be open to opportunities that may arise. And be ready to make a shift if things fall through, as they often do.
7-Line up cultural activities. Even if you’re planning a rigorous academic program, be sure to arrange for some fun stuff that will help students get a sense of the local culture – a cooking, dance or craft lesson; tours of local attractions; food or wine tastings; music and theatre performances; etc.
8-Keep them busy. College students visiting foreign countries have a tendency to drink, sometimes heavily. Those under 21 often want to take full advantage of the more liberal alcohol policies in the country they are visiting. Plan plenty of stimulating evening activities so students don’t spend every night at the local pub or bar.
9-But don’t overschedule. The biggest complaint I’ve gotten from students is that they don’t have enough downtime. Build free time into the schedule, so students can explore on their own or just hang out.
10-Be ready to play Mom (or Dad). When you’re leading a study-abroad program, you’re much more than an instructor. Be prepared to deal with medical emergencies, broken hearts, homesickness, roommate conflicts, love triangles and other challenges. Pack a first-aid kit and a box of tissues. You’re bound to need them.
“I think international study is extremely important for students. It encourages students to get out of their comfort zone and test their skills and abilities,” Olivia Martzell, a multimedia student in the 2014 Urbino Program, recently told her college news bureau.
Martzell is a senior majoring in liberal arts at the Louisiana Scholars’ College, part of Northwestern State University of Louisana in Natchitoches. In Urbino, she wrote and photographed an article and created a video about a local dance school, Movimento E Fantasia – Movement and Fantasy.
Titled “Getting the Pointe,” Martzell’s story was nominated for two Raffie awards, for Best Photo Story and Best Single Photograph. Martzell won in the category Best Single Photograph for “Tiny Dancers,” an atmospheric portrait of young performers awaiting their turn onstage. She was surprised to win, she told the news bureau, because “that was the first time I ever took a photography class.”
Martzell, who is also a dancer, said she “hopes to become a broadcast journalist for a national news network.” Of her experience in Urbino, she said, “I feel I progressed so much with my journalistic abilities. I was challenged to work hard and to go out, despite being out of my element, and learn Italy’s culture and truly get the story.”
Each summer, the Urbino magazine, multimedia, and video programs honor the students’ best work with the “Raffie Awards,” named for the town’s most famous son, the Renaissance painter Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, or Raphael.
Choosing the winners is an exceedingly difficult task. Each of our 40 students stretched farther than they—and sometimes we—thought possible during the month-long course. Some had never reported a feature story or used a video camera, some had never taken journalistic photographs, and a few had never written a story in English. They faced considerable language and cultural challenges in order to complete their assignments. One student missed a week’s work because of a painful bite from a poisonous bug. Mercurial transportation schedules nearly did in several stories. Sources evaporated. Promising leads fell through. Cameras broke.
But every student succeeded. They came up with new stories, found alternative sources, snagged a friend’s camera. They kept trying until they got the correct information or the right wording or a better image.
Faced with that kind of effort and determination, how do you decide who “wins”? Ultimately, the faculty made some tough choices:
- Best Photo Story: (Tie) Olivia Condon – Modern Day Da Vinci Code and Leslie McCrea – Rooted in Respect
- Best Text Story: J.J. Wilson – In With the Old, In with the New
- Best Combined Text and Photo Story: Landon Walker – Life and Death in Urbino
- Best Text Story: (Tie) Urvi Patel – The Empty Synagogue and Susan Rogowski – A Saintly Obsession
- Best Video: Erin Mordhorst – Getting Flagged for Cleanliness
- Best Photo Story: Meredith Kipp – Il Tartufo: The Gem of Acqualagna
- Best Single Photograph: Olivia Martzell – Tiny Dancers
- Best Overall Package: Meredith Kipp – Il Tartufo: The Gem of Acqualagna
PROMOTIONAL VIDEO PROJECT
- Best Story: Malorie Stone – Producer
And the other students? Well, they’re winners too. We’re sure you’ll agree when you see their work.
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Our Students Get Great Gigs
- Urbino Project – 2014
- Urbino Now Magazine – 2014
- Armagh Project – 2014
- Jerusalem Project – 2014
- Valencia Project – 2014
- Nice Project – 2014
- Istanbul Project – 2014
- Urbino Project – 2013
- Urbino Now iPad App – 2013
- Istanbul Project – 2013
- Jerusalem Project – 2013
- Urbino Project – 2012
- Urbino Now Magazine – 2012
- Istanbul Project – 2012
- Urbino Project – 2011
- Urbino Now Magazine – 2011
- Perpignan Project – 2011
- Istanbul Stories – 2011
- Faces of Istanbul (Book) – 2011
- Urbino Now Magazine – 2010
- Perpignan Project – 2010
- Urbino Project – 2009
- Armagh Project – 2009
- Urbino View Magazine – 2009
- Cagli Project – 2008
- Armagh Project – 2007
- Cagli Project – 2007
- Camerano Project – 2006
- Cagli Project – 2006
- Cagli Project – 2005
- Cagli Project – 2004
- Cagli Project – 2003
- Cagli Project – 2002
by Kenneth Foo, Nanyang Technological University, The Urbino Project 2011