SMU-in-London

48 communication students from SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts are studying international media, advertising, British cinema and nonprofit communications.

What I learned in London: an update from Maddie

Maddie is a junior majoring in advertising and minoring in sociology and Corporate Communications and Public Affairs.

London was definitely quite the learning experience, but more so a growing experience, for me at least. Indeed, I learned a great deal about international advertising and the media in Great Britain from class, all of which will help me in the future with my career. Yet, it is the things I learned and saw outside of class that will help me be a better person and live a better life. I feel like a changed person, a person not afraid to try new things or attempt to speak a different language or even get a little lost from time to time.

To be bold
I have learned to be more open-minded and bold. There are so many different viewpoints and ideas in this world, and many are respectable and admirable. Without diversity in opinion and character our world would be an awfully boring place, and nothing creative or inventive would ever surface. Actually immersing myself in a new culture has changed everything. Whether it’s politics, fashion, entertainment or food, being different is a good thing and makes experiencing those different things memorable and special.

I’m convinced that my newly developed open-mindedness has made me a better person and a bolder individual. For example, never before would I have agreed to try something like black pudding, because I am fully aware of its contents, yet being in London and seeing how prevalent and traditional the dish was I decided to try it. Similarly, when I was in Scotland I decided to listen to Alex’s father and taste a-must-have delicacy called haggis. Also in Scotland, I left my stable state and joined in on the ten or so Scottish dances in the castle ballroom. Never have I felt so incredibly awkward and clueless, but it was so worth it! All the twirling, stomping and arm-locking with old men decked out in kilts ended up being the highlight of the night. I’m sure this doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a decent start to my new bold self.

To be independent
In London I have learned to be independent. I mistakenly took my roommate’s passport to the airport (when we were flying to Paris) and was faced with the quandary of me getting myself back on the correct shuttle, platform, train and tube line home. Somehow I managed to make it back to Regents College, with a few wrong turns and a little guidance from this cute, older woman. I was flustered and upset I missed my flight, but in a way relieved that I had actually made it home.

To appreciate
All in all, I have learned to appreciate. London is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited and surpassed any of the expectations I had for it. There is so much history, and every English person is proud to be one. Oddly enough, I have also learned to appreciate my parents more. They were the ones who agreed to this adventure in the first place. They were the ones who said, “Maddie, go have the time of your life.” Without my parents’ support, I would not have experienced or learned what I did. I did have the time of my life in London and managed to actually study while abroad too. I learned how to properly drink tea and how often to carry an umbrella. I learned how to handle out of control Spaniards and Italians and the necessity of wearing flat shoes. I learned there’s never such a thing as too much diet coke, but there is such a thing as too much refectory food.

Looking back on this whole experience, frankly I am surprised. I am surprised by how brave I’ve been. I’m surprised by the food I ended up liking and the music I am now obsessed with (Scottish Ceildh). I’m surprised that I handled five weeks of rain and survived not having air conditioning. I’m surprised I was able to handle being fully on my own and loving it. The bottom line is -I am proud of myself. I will never forget my summer of 2007 in London and the weekend adventures that felt like dreams…

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Comparing cultures

whitney2.jpg An update from Whitney P, a senior CCPA major with a Spanish and music minor who interned this summer with One World Broadcasting Trust, which aims to increase understanding between developing and developed countries through the effective use of media:

I was placed at One World Broadcasting Trust (OWBT) because of my interest in media. My first day of work was very interesting. The work culture in London is very different than what I am used to in the States. Everyone was extremely quiet, I mean you could hear a pen drop! It was the strangest thing I have ever experienced in a work setting. Everyone was so focused and passionate about their work, it was an amazing thing to see because some of the places I have worked in Texas lack the passion that I saw in this organization.

In my first weeks at my internship I worked on a lot of follow-up for the annual OWBT media awards ceremony. The awards recognize the unique role of journalists and filmmakers in bringing together different societies, and communicating the depth of social, political and cultural experiences across the globe. So it was interesting to learn about the different awards and topics that various journalists covered and how they were making a difference by shedding light on these situations, which usually received little or no media coverage.

Botswana vs. the U.S.
Today I met one of the volunteers named Keletso, and she was originally from Botswana. I had an amazing conversation with her about the culture differences in Africa, Europe and the U.S. We mainly discussed our personal experiences as African-American women in our respective cultures.

I was explaining to her how different my experiences were in the United States as compared with London. Since London is such a melting pot I feel like race is not an issue whatsoever, and I did not feel out of place anywhere I went because of my race. But, in the U.S., race is of course a much larger issue, and racism, despite what people might think, still occurs every day. It is usually not overt, but it is there, and I shared with her some of my experiences on job interviews, in school and social settings.

She shared with me her experience of living in Botswana and not having the same features as native Botswanians and some of the reactions she received. She also told me stories of the discrimination she experienced when attending school in London from other African and African-American women. We bonded through our common experiences and became great friends that day. She even invited me to come visit her when she went back home, so I’m taking a trip to Africa! I don’t know when, but I am definitely going to take her up on that offer!

New ways to work
After about two weeks of working at One World Broadcasting Trust, I decided to take some initiative after overhearing a conversation my boss was having with a colleague regarding the American fundraising model. We were learning about this in Professor Latour’s class, and she gave us a document that contained all of the information my organization needed. So I customized the document to fit some of the organization’s needs, and I also made suggestions on a few things I thought OWBT could use to improve sother programs. The next day my boss was really happy with the fundraising document and the suggestions I gave her she asked me to do.

– Whitney P

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How many Planet Earths does the average SMU student use?

An update from Jillian – Jillian is a junior CCPA major who interned with OneClimate.net.
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With the term global warming, many pictures come to mind: a hybrid car, Hurricane Katrina, Al Gore’s face and now – five planet Earths. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), that is the acreage required if every person in the world shared the lifestyle of an American student.

Until recently, the vast majority of the general public, and even most global justice activists, have seen climate change as “an environmental issue” of secondary importance to “people-issues.” OneClimate, a program under OneWorld NGO, acknowledges many connections now beginning to emerge between climate change, poverty and social justice. OneClimate focuses on promoting awareness and education, bringing the problems of climate change to the forefront of people’s lives across the globe.

How big is your footprint?
Tracking the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) individuals produce, or your carbon footprint, helps you gain perspective on personally making a difference. CO2 is a greenhouse gas connected to global warming and is something we release in mass quantities every day. Several calculators that determine your carbon footprint are available on the web. The majority produce results in pounds or kilograms, accurate but difficult to visualize. They ask questions relating to households and bill,s which, for students who live on campuses, can be inapplicable or time-consuming.
For example, according to www.timeforchange.org, “one kg (2.205 lbs) of CO2 is released with the production of five plastic bags, production of two plastic bottles and the production of 1/3 of an American cheeseburger.” Yes, just 1/3. It is easy to tell that is significant, but difficult to grasp because holding a pound of gas is somewhat intangible.

The WWF calculator estimates how much productive land and water you need to support what you use and discard based on questions about food and technology as well as recycling and transportation. For example, a student who eats meat/fish once a day, buys food that isn’t locally grown (which in a major city like Dallas is inevitable), drives an SUV 5-15 hrs a week, doesn’t use public transit, spends 10 hours on a plane annually and lives in a two-person apartment, uses up to 22 acres of the earth annually.
Included in this calculation, this student recycles, turns their lights and computer off when they leave, and carpools, which are solutions that we have easily adopted to attempt to do our part. This isn’t enough, considering that if divided evenly, there are only 4.5 acres for each person across the world to use every year.

You can make a difference
That means during our time at SMU, we will produce 5 times the amount of carbon dioxide the average person should be allotted. We hear about climate change beginning to be a serious problem in 2050 or even in 100 years’ time. But OneClimate founder Anuradha Vittachi believes an “Irreversibility Day” is set for 2030.
There are recycling cans all over campus – use them. Carpool. The energy used up by being lazy is actually more than the energy you would use to be productive.

Eliminate your excuses for not tracking your carbon footprint by going to www.worldwildlife.org/globalwarming. Go the extra mile for a detailed footprint at www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_calculator.html or www.begreennow.com/users/calculator.

Each website provides insight on how to reduce produced CO2 so you can start implementing improvements at SMU today. Statistics are showing that U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions declined from 5.955 million metric tons (MMTCO2) in 2005 to 5,877 MMTCO2 in 2006.

People are responding and changing. Be one of them today by signing up at www.oneclimate.net.

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Everyone say Baklava!

An update from Claire
We have been in Northern Greece now for almost five days. It is beautiful here, although much of the land is rural and poor. However, the beauty of the landscape, ocean, food and white-washed villas with red-tiled roofs seems to keep us busy!!

We flew in to Thessaloniki, which is a large city on the Northwestern coast of Greece. It was very warm, as you can imagine, since Greece is in the middle of a severe heatwave this summer. Some days, locals say, it gets as hot as 110 degrees, so we are naturally by the beautiful Mediterranean beaches every chance that we get.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy getting to our resort in Gerakini, a small village on the middle Southeastern coast, as it was getting from London to Greece. We got lost, and what should have taken us an hour car trip to the hotel took us about four hours. Needless to say, we nearly saw this entire country and met every local who owned a gas station and didn’t speak English. However, we finally got to Gerakini late Wednesday afternoon and didn’t waste any time in getting out to the beach.

The majority of our time in Greece was spent at the Center for Disease Prevention and Medical Research in Ormylia, a small village about 10 miles up in the hills away from Gerakini. The center co-hosted a breast cancer workshop along with the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure foundation.

As communication students attending this workshop with over 40 delegates from Egypt, Greece, Syria, Bosnia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Srpska, our job was to brainstorm with these doctors and advocates ideas about how to build better communication for their countries about breast cancer, prevention care and education. Many of these countries face cultural and religious barriers, so our mission is finding how we as communicators can get the message to the people who need to hear it.

When the workshop research is done at the end of the day, it is one of the first times that the 15 students who left London to come to Greece have been able to rest! It is amazing how easily you can fall asleep on a sunny beach, with Mediterranean water lapping against a sandy and rocky shore when all your energy and enthusiasm are drained from the cold and rainy London weather!

It’s beautifully simple here, which allows us to be easily focused on relaxing when we are not working. However, it is equally difficult to have any outside contact with the rest of the world. It is rare to get internet access, there are only three ATMs in a 200-mile circumference and calling home is a little unheard of. So watching CNN International in English is as exciting as celebrating Christmas morning.

Greece and London have been a great experience, and we have met amazing people from all over the world. However, I definitely look forward to coming home, but I have many great stories to share!!

Claire

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Helping fight breast cancer in Greece

An update from Candy
Dr. Stanley Kivitz from Stanford University opened a breast cancer screening and treatment clinic in the Favalas of Brazil. The Favalas are the shantytowns or ghettos surrounding the cities in Brazil. Dr. Kivitz serves underprivileged women with the best technology, but most importantly by making the women feel welcomed and comfortable.

Quotes from Dr. Kivitz patients in his Brazil Clinic:
“I felt valued as a human being.”

“It is excellent how the human being is treated.”

“This is the third time here…world is full of prejudice and inhumanity…here such an enlightened team – it is a dream.”

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Helping fight breast cancer in Greece

An update from Candy
The first full day of the conference was exciting. I never expected I’d be in a room with so many people from around the world, all in one room, to fight breast cancer. The schedule was broken up into lectures and mammography practicum. Experts like Dr. Philip Kivitz from Stanford University and Dr. Elizabeth DePeri from the Mayo Clinic lectured other professionals on how to sharpen their radiology and patient care skills.

They also lectured about what they do day-to-day to make their practices successful. The mammography practicum gives the radiologists opportunities to review their mammography films with other professionals and talk about better reading and screening practices.

Again, they served us a phenomenal, 4-course, homemade lunch that included an exotic dish: giant stuffed squid. It was interesting, to say the least. But, I’m proud to say that I did give it a try. Tastes like chicken.
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Throughout the conference we were able to collect some great data by interviewing the participants.

At the end of our long but rewarding day, we put on our swimsuits and headed for the beach. There’s nothing like a swim in the Mediterranean to bring the day to a close.

Candy

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Lessons from London

An update from Laura – Laura is a sophomore majoring in journalism who participated in SMU-in-London this summer.

Deliriously wandering off the airplane at London’s Gatwick airport on the day of my arrival to the SMU in London program, I boarded a bus with the rest of the kids in the program. Knowing some of the girls as sorority acquaintances, I had only been formally introduced to a handful of girls. For the most part, I didn’t know anyone on the trip and certainly did not feel at total ease or comfort with any other students. I suppose learning to acclimate myself to challenging social situations and learning to be more open minded about people are the two most valuable things that I’ve taken out of these five weeks.

To be honest, I did a study abroad semester in high school and have lived in London for the past six summers so I felt like those two experiences really enlightened me to the traditional “things to be learned” from an abroad program: learning a language, learning about another culture, gaining a sense of independence, and learning about new transportation systems. This trip really held no culture shocks per se. On the other hand, having to be comfortable with people who I had already established as merely casual, distant friends was the most difficult thing to overcome. I now can honestly say I have done what I would never have imagined possible: converted a few social friends to true, lifelong friends that I will continue to hold near to me even upon returning to Dallas at the end of this program.

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London lessons: an update from Tyler

Tyler participated in SMU-in-London’s Mass Media class and British Film class.

What I learned in London? What did I not learn in London should be the question. My experience in London put me on the right track again. Being 22 years old, life was beginning to get complicated. Do I go to graduate school? Do I need to get an internship? What about getting a real adult job? Life was much easier on the structured path in middle school.

My entire life has revolved around my music career. I missed out on a lot of college memories because I was too busy choosing to do things that may further my passion of music. I never had a close group of girlfriends at SMU because of this. Coming to London allowed me to forget about what may or may not happen with my music, and allowed me to concentrate on just hanging out with a group of smart, amazing girls.

I got to stay in scary hostels and laugh until I couldn’t breathe. I have visited three different countries in a month. I have seen things that some people will never in their lives see. I have made friends that I hope to keep forever.

I almost decided to stay in Texas because I was afraid I would miss out on some show or opportunity for my music. That would have been the biggest mistake I could have made. I finally feel like I am having the college experience I have always heard about. “These are the best years of your life,” now I understand.

-Tyler

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The conference in Greece: An update from Candy

The first day of the conference was incredible. I’ve never met so many
people that are so warm and welcoming. Every person I’ve had the pleasure
of meeting has been thrilled to see us and happy that we came to the
conference. It’s hard to explain the overwhelming sense of joy these people
have when they see us. I’ve lost count of how many hugs and kisses I’ve
gotten from the staff and from the nuns at the center.

At the introductory ceremony, the staff provided the guests with translating
devices that looked like futuristic stethoscopes and that was pretty cool.
However, it was obvious that the nice woman translating the Greek portions
to English, spoke English as her second or maybe third language, as she
referred to “vagina cancer” several times during the speech. No big deal,
we got the gist of everything.

During the ceremony, I was amazed at the caliber of the guest speakers. I
heard lectures from the head of radiology at Stanford University, Brown
University, Susan G. Komen and the Mayo Clinic. After the opening session,
the doors to the dinning hall opened up to the most beautiful homemade
dinner I’ve ever seen. We sat down for a 4-course meal prepared by the staff
of the Ormylia Center, and to make it even better, everything we ate was
grown right here at the center. Talk about fresh. I know this is going to
be an incredible experience.

Candy

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Ormylia, Greece

An update from Candy
To add to our already jam-packed, awesome summer of non-stop life-changing experiences, the 15 of us that were interning in London are now in the north of Greece. We’re staying in a small town called Gerakini Beach. Yes, it’s tough; we have to stay in a beach resort, on the Mediterranean, because it’s the only hotel around that can hold this SMU bunch. At the hotel, we’re crammed in three to a room, but that’s okay because we have an ocean view from our balcony.
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About 10 minutes from our hotel is the tiny town of Ormylia. In Ormylia, there is a center called the Ormylia Foundation: Center for Disease Prevention and Medical Research, Panagia Philanthropini. The mission of the center is to comfort and alleviate the suffering of human beings with emphasis on the poor and working-class public without preference to race, nationality, gender, or creed. The center provides breast cancer and ovarian cancer education and screening.
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We are lucky enough to be guests at their annual breast cancer conference. The conference brings together international partners and focuses on breast cancer prevention through early detection. Right now, 90 percent of breast cancers are curable if they are detected early. The participants of the conference come from all over the world including Greece, Bosnia, Egypt, Turkey, Eritrea and the U.S.
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So, what in the world are we, SMU undergraduate students, bringing to the table? We are getting a once in a lifetime opportunity to collect significant data, using an interpretist approach, on people’s attitudes and beliefs towards breast cancer and how it is seen, discussed and addressed in their part of the world. Our goal over the course of the conference is to collect qualitative data through one-on-one interviews, and then develop a feasible communications strategy to leave with the participants to take back to their countries and regions.
I know, I know, it’s brain overload, but it is such an amazing opportunity that as an undergraduate student, I’m getting experience in field research and experience in issues that affect so many women around the world.
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