Students enrolled in the School of Journalism and Mass Communicationâ€™s international storytelling course produced stories in Shanghai on various subject matters such as World of Work, Family & Traditions, Journalism, Arts & Culture, Emerging Economy and Sports & Recreation for Dateline Shanghai before visiting iconic Beijing landmarks such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China. Find the stories on Dateline Shanghai.
â€œWe wanted to give our students an opportunity to practice journalism, while broadening their view of the world,â€ McKenney said.
In the weeks before they left for Shanghai, the students and professors met weekly to go over logistics, do initial reporting on their stories, study Chinese history and learn about the culture from experts, including SISU students already at Kent State.
â€œItâ€™s really important for journalism students â€“ well, all students â€“ to have an international experience,â€ Hanson said. â€œOur students went to China with a purpose. They went there to work. They worked as journalists in China.â€
The course brought together students interested in international travel, journalism, photography and public relations.
â€œWhat was unique about this course was that the multimedia reporting lessons really tied into what the students want to do in their careers,â€ Hanson said. â€œBecause the work was relative to their futures, the students jumped right in.â€
Michael Moses, a junior applied communications major, helped produce content for Dateline Shanghai.
â€œAfter studying abroad at Kent State Florence and now China, I cannot say enough good things about traveling,â€ Moses said. â€œChina is full of opportunities; itâ€™s incredible to hear success stories when you get to talking. You never know what youâ€™ll find.â€
To assist students with the language barrier, each Kent State student was paired with a SISU student liaison. â€œThey were truly partners,â€ Hanson said. â€œIn fact, at times, our students served as teachers, sharing their knowledge of reporting for Western news organizations.â€
Moses said, â€œMy liaison will be a lifelong friend; itâ€™s amazing having a friend on the other side of the world.â€
Kent State students were surprised by the number of Americans living and working in Shanghai. Justin Parsons, a journalism graduate student at Kent State University, wrote "A Look at Timken in China," which appeared in the Akron Beacon Journal and, subsequently online via ohio.com.
â€œIf you can master the language, the opportunities are limitless,â€ Moses said.
The trip included a great deal of cultural experiences, too.
â€œWe hope students came home with a better understanding of the countryâ€™s 1.3 billion people,â€ McKenney said.
Students especially enjoyed getting a feel for Chinese culture.
â€œI think Gary and I were both impressed by how eager the students were to get started,â€ McKenney said. â€œI love telling the story of the morning when our still-jetlagged group was walking through Lu Xun Park en route to the nearest Starbucks. It was a nice day and we found people flying kites, performing music, playing with their kids â€“ even men in their skivvies swimming across the lake (despite the signs saying not to). The students immediately started proposing feature stories on Shanghai residents at play.â€
LuEtt Hanson, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Communication and Information, traveled with the group to help the student-travelers but also to make connections and plan future collaborations in China.
â€œIn one of the debriefing sessions, one student said, â€˜I lived in China,â€™â€ LuEtt Hanson said. â€œI think this shows how much the students felt they learned on this trip. They experienced actually living and working in another country.â€
After the success of this course, whatâ€™s next?
â€œIn the future, Iâ€™d love to see a continued partnership with SISU and develop trips to other countries,â€ McKenney said. â€œAs it turned out, they and we were enthusiastic about continuing this partnership in Shanghai because we all learned from it. I would like to see versions of International Storytelling that explore other countries, too.â€