Gaylord College hosts new media program
Gaylord College is hosting 20 South Asian students to teach them how to use new technologies to their advantage in their journalistic endeavors as a part of Gaylord’s New Media Institute.
Students arrived at OU May 21 and will stay until June 15 as part of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders.
Students in the program are from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Prospective participants, selected from their respective universities, were nominated by the U.S. Embassy in their country, and those nominations were reviewed and finalized by the U.S. Department of State.
“It’s a very competitive process,” said Elizabeth Latham, program officer for the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
OU received $240,000 from the state department to fund the institute, Latham said.
The institute includes lectures, skill labs, community service and leadership training, which are streamed live via their Facebook page, said program director Chris Krug.
The institute already has had a lasting impression on at least one student.
“I’m really enjoying this subject of journalism, so now I’m planning to get my master’s in this,” said Umme Mahbuba, a junior from Asian University for Women in Bangladesh.
Mahbuba is currently majoring in PPE, politics, philosophy and economics.
The experience that Sowmiya Purusothamakuru, communications junior, is having at OU has helped her realize how technology can benefit Trincomalee Campus of Eastern University, which she attends in Sri Lanka.
“This experience will definitely be helpful, not only to me but to my university,” Purusothamakuru said. “My lecturers are eagerly waiting for me to tell them what I’ve learned.”
In addition to the benefits reaped in the classroom, students have really enjoyed their community service.
“We went to the J.D. McCarty Center for special needs children, and it was a really, really amazing experience,” Purusothamakuru said. “I got a lot of satisfaction from going there.”
Students also took a trip to the Chickasaw Cultural Center, Paseo Arts Festival, built a home with Habitat for Humanity and went horseback riding, said Jini Agrawal, business junior at Kathmandu College of Management.
“This is everyone’s first trip to the U.S., and everyone at OU has been very hospitable,” Agrawal said.
Agrawal has been working for Himalaya Television in Nepal for 10 months now and said she sees a future career for herself in broadcast.
Students set up Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and Facebook accounts while at OU.
“I found after I came here that I can use my blog to build my own space and expose my ideas, putting news out there online instead of just my writings,” said Madhubhashini Rathnayaka, mass communication senior at the University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka.
Rathnayaka shared Agrawal’s sentiments about her experience at OU.
“The hospitality has been great,” Rathnayaka said. “When we came to the airport, Kathy (Adams, assistant to Gaylord College Dean Joe Foote) and John (Hockett, assistant dean of student affairs) were waiting for us, and they were very friendly.”
Some students expressed the problems the press experiences with freedom of expression in their home countries.
Mahbuba said the press in Bangladesh says it is neutral and unbiased but at the same time are affiliated with certain political groups and affected by sponsors they accept money from. She also said journalists in South Asian countries struggle with gender inequality.
“One of the bigger problems back home is that women don’t really have a voice,” Mahbuba said.
Journalists in Sri Lanka are trying to overcome the freedoms they lack, Rathnayaka said.
“Most of the media industry is in the hands of politics,” Rathnayaka said.
Following their stay at OU, students will visit Chicago and Washington, D.C. to continue learning about new media, Krug said.
Editor’s note: Six former or current Daily employees are involved with the Gaylord New Media Institute.
Link: Click here to visit the Gaylord College New Media Institute's fan page on Facebook and learn more about the institute