SMU-in-London

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

London lessons: an update from Mallory

Mallory is a junior journalism and psychology double major.

When I decided to come to Dallas for college, it was a big step for me. I grew up in a small town in Arkansas where the population matches the total number of undergraduate students at SMU. I had never lived in another city before, much less another state, so I was nervous about being on my own for the first time in unfamiliar territory. Two years later, I now know that this choice to broaden my horizons and come to SMU has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

With this in mind, I took the huge leap to come to London this summer with SMU to study journalism and film. As my time here is coming to a close, I can honestly say that this has also been one of the best decisions that I have made and one of the best experiences of my life. I have learned so much in such a short amount of time, and I don’t regret a moment of it.

It’s true that I have learned a lot about British media and film through my courses. I have learned about Parliament, the British Monarchy, and the rich history of England by exploring London. I have learned about the culture of the UK and other parts of Europe by traveling on the weekends. But most important, I have learned that no matter where you are in the world, no matter what language is spoken, what currency is accepted, or what crazy foods are eaten, people are all essentially the same – most people are good.

One weekend I traveled to Prague with my friend Lesli. After a long day of touring the city, we took a tram in the wrong direction and ended up completely lost. We were standing at a tram station fumbling with our maps trying to figure out how to get back to our hostel when a man waiting at the stop approached us. This man only spoke Czech, but despite the language barrier, he was desperately trying to give us directions. He had a look in his eyes of genuine concern, even though he didn’t know us. Finally, he managed to put us on a tram sending us in the right direction.

At the time, I was just thankful to no longer be lost, but now looking back, I feel like I really taken something important away from that situation. Even though this man lived halfway around the world from the small town I grew up in and even though he spoke a different language, he still had a kindness about him. Though our cultures and lifestyles may differ, people are just people with the same wants and needs as everyone else on the planet.

My advice to anyone considering a study abroad or travel opportunity would be to jump at the chance, even if it scares you. And when you do it, take it all in because it will go by quickly. Spend an afternoon people watching. Talk with strangers. Stay out until four in the morning. Get lost – because when you do, you just might find something.
– Mallory

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Headed to Greece

An update from Kathy LaTour
Tomorrow at 4 a.m. Assistant Director Becky Hewitt and I will meet our group for our 7:30 flight to Thessalonica, Greece. By around 3 we should be at Gerakina Beach hotel, where we will be staying for the next week, and to say the women in the class are looking forward to it is an understatement.

We have had mostly rain and cold weather in London for a month, and now we can expect sun and a high of 100. The change in the weather will be as big a shift as our focus. For the next week the students will be matched with Radiologists and advocates from breast care facilities in a number of developing countries. The students, under the direction of visiting senior lecturer Tony Kroll, will be interviewing individual doctors and the advocates with them about issues of breast cancer in their country of origin. For example, in a Muslim country the women are covered from head to foot because of the belief that only their husband should see their body. So how will they receive adequate preventative screening for breast cancer — and how do you overcome that issue?

For the past month the students have been using statistics and numbers to prove the need for issues such as gun control, women’s rights and climate control. Now they will learn how to gather those statistics from doctors and women on the front lines. Tony and I will be encouraging them to look at ways to leverage their work this summer into a fellowship or internship for next summer.

-Kathy

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From INGOs in London to research in Greece

On July 24, 17 CCPA juniors and seniors will travel to Ormylia, Greece, where they will take part in a workshop at the Center for Disease Prevention and Medical Research Panagia Philanthropini.

Working with visiting senior lecturer Tony Kroll and senior lecturer Kathy LaTour, the students will finish internship hours begun in London, where they interned with international nongovernmental organizations. Working with Kroll, whose research expertise is in barriers to treatment, the students will be gathering data through interviews to understand cultural barriers in breast cancer screening and creating messages that they hope will ultimately be used in the home countries of the doctors and advocates in attendance – who come from Bosnia, Eritrea, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Syria and Turkey.

The students and faculty were able to attend the workshop because of funds granted by Susan G. Komen for the Cure and the Meadows Foundation Edge of Excellence Funds.

Both LaTour, who is a 20-year breast cancer survivor, and Kroll, who has specialized in barriers to treatment in his research and with the Centers for Disease Control, will be part of the faculty for the program, which also includes Elizabeth DePeri, MD, the director of Breast Imaging at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida.

Kathy

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Cheers London – Hello Greece!

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I have had some great memories in London as I am getting ready for my time here to be over! I finished my internship at the Green Belt Movement on Thursday and actually fly to Greece on Tuesday morning.

In Northern Greece, we will be researching alongside the Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer in their facility in Thessaloniki. We will be doing in-depth interviews with participants about barriers and perceptions of breast cancer and breast cancer screening. It will be an amazing experience – not to mention that we get to take part of the beaches, food and lifestyle of Greece!!

After that, I fly home for some rest and much needed time with the people that I love – before jetting back to Paris for the fall! What an experience!

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We have been finishing our time by seeing a lot of markets and museums… and resting as much a possible! Thursday afternoon I took a train to Salisbury, about an hour and a half away, to see the Salisbury Cathedral and Stonehenge! We toured the cathedral that night, then again slept above a pub (like Scotland) – I’m not sure what SMU is thinking – and then up at the great hour of 4 am to experience Stonehenge at sunrise … a very early sunrise!

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Unfortunately, if you are following the weather over here in the UK, you would know that London is flooding with these summer rains – and Salisbury was no exception! There were SHEETS of cold rain sweeping over the drenched grass as we all wobbled out of the car at 4:15 on a fabulous Friday morning.

We had the rare ability to walk into the circle and touch the stones and take pictures! It was quite a sight … seeing 20 college students running around, slipping, skipping, and chasing sheep around these massive stones – all in order to keep their frozen bones warm!!

Other than that, this week we have been to Kensington Palace, Camden Market, the London Eye, every museum known to man – thanks to an overexcited little brother, as well as the National Gallery, Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, and the British Library … plus far too many restaurants and shops than any of us can remember!
London has been a great experience; I look back and really appreciate my time here so much. I have learned more than I could have imagined from the experiences and places that I have been put into. Working in a global office is just a fascinating experience in itself. But having the ability to work hands-on alongside them is even more amazing.

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While I look forward to Greece, I will always remember my time in London and fondly cherish what I learned here. It is more than unique to have this opportunity as a college student, and I am forever grateful to SMU for this chance to learn outside of the classroom.

There is nothing that better sums up the last month of life than just incredible. I am so blessed to be here today, and I cherish my opportunities that I have had and the ones to come in the future.

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-Claire

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Goodbye to London

Well I can???t believe today is my last day at the office. It has turned out to be a great experience, even though along the way seemed rocky and frustrating. I can honestly look back and really appreciate my time here so much. I have learned more than I could have imagined from the experiences and places that I have been put into. Working in a global office is just a fascinating experience in itself. But having the ability to work hands-on alongside them is even more amazing.

While I look forward to Greece, I will always remember my time at the GBMI and fondly cherish what I learned. It is more than unique to have this opportunity as a college student and I am forever grateful to SMU and CCPA for this chance to learn outside of the classroom.

I have loved getting familiar with the research and fundraising aspects of non-profits: a side so different from Taos and my work there. There is nothing that better sums up the last seven months of work than just incredible. To have the opportunity to work at a local, medical clinic to working in the arts in another state, then moving globally and working with an international non-profit in one of the most amazing cities in the world ??? well, that???s just unfathomable to many of the people I know.

I am so blessed to be here today, and I cherish my opportunities that I have had and the ones to come in the future.

-Claire

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An update from Kelly C in London

I had planned to go into work this morning, expecting to finish up with all of my writing documents. However, what I got was something much different!!

As everyone was busy today, James (my supervisor) asked me to represent africapractice at The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development: Least Developed Countries (LDC) Report 2007. (I wasn’t sure if I was their last choice and had to go because of others’ time restraints or because he knew I had a background in economics…. Either way doesn’t matter – I still went).

The conference discussed the need of technological and capital investment in Africa, rather than human development projects. In order to escape poverty in Africa, the national governments must adopt new technology policies and increase knowledge through the development of science, technology and innovation (STI).

They showed that there was a direct link between the increased technological investment and the reduction of African poverty. Furthermore, access to technology by the LDCs does not mean there will be an automatic use of it. Thus, there is a need for proper implementation and training of such technologies, especially in the industrial and farming sectors.

As I sat there, I was totally blown away. All of these economic classes finally made sense. The famous economist Adam Smith (a strong supporter/ founder of the laissez-faire theory) would roll over in his grave if he could see how the economic problems in Africa are being handled now!

Any economist will tell you the key factor of a successful economy is increased spending on capital. It seems that the only solution that is ever proposed to Africa is foreign aid/investment in education, environment, health, etc (all focusing on the human aspect). However, they have completely forgotten the key aspects to creating a successful economy.

Foundations, such as the Gates and Clinton Foundation, should provide aid to Africa through capital investment rather than human development initiatives. Securing private investments through these foundations has proven to be difficult, due to the lack of knowledge of the importance of STI. Additionally, there is a continued need for foreign businesses to invest in African firms, thus increasing the economic capacity.

So I have to wonder…. Although many human development initiatives are providing some relief in Africa, they don’t seem to be truly solving the problem. So why don’t we give something else a try?

-Kelly C.

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Jessica: It’s been a busy two weeks

Everyone seems to be slowing down a little with the reality that this is our last week in London. Between class, work, traveling and trying to see as much of London in between, the time has absolutely flown by and left most of us exhausted, but absolutely fulfilled. Next Tuesday we will leave for Greece to start our work and the second half of our internships, and say goodbye to the relationships and adventures we???ve had in London. It???s sort of sad, but how can I be at all disappointed with the adventures that I have coming up? I???ve already started making plans to come back next summer, maybe again with the SMU program, but more likely for a more extended stay. I love this city and I really have not gotten enough of it to last me a life time???yet.

But enough about what???s going to happen, a lot has happened in the past couple of weeks. The entire SMU in London class went to Edinburgh, Scotland for a couple of days, where we toured the castle and the city, taking in a whole other side of the UK. My friend Whitney and I made sure to experience a real Scottish pub, plaid curtains, carpet and all. It was fun to tour around and get a feel for another way of life, but it did feel good to get back to the hustle and bustle of London after a couple of days.

That Saturday a few of us went out to the London Live Earth Concert taking place at Wembly Stadium. I wish we has been there for the music as well, but our goal that day was to do some work for our friend Jil???s internship, One Climate, which is the largest internet NGO advocating for environmental awareness. We walked around and interviewed people going to the concert about why they were there, if they thought the concert was a good way to promote environmental issues and what they might be doing to help the environment. The interviews were posted along with others from around the world on the One Climate website at http://oneclimate.net/liveearthday. So check it out! And while you???re on the site make sure to register with One Climate. It doesn???t cost anything and get in the know on the hot issue of climate change!

After Saturday???s adventures a couple of us decided to hop back on the train and head to Stonehenge for the day. What an incredible place! Definitely worth the hour or so train ride to get there and something that I will never forget.

On Monday I didn???t have work and my old 1970???s Olympus OM- 1 was finally back in working order, so I took advantage of the first sunny London day I have ever seen and explored more of London. My favorite thing to do in this city is just get lost. I get off at some random Tube stop and just walk around, trying not to stand out too much and pulling out my camera when I find a good shot of some part of the city. Then I just wander until I find another tube station and head home. It???s so easy, and never once have I found myself in a part of town where I thought: it is really not ok for me to be here. Every day in London is a new experience.

This past weekend my friends and I flew to Ibiza, Espa??a, (or EYEbeetha, as the Brits say), for some much needed sunshine and a little relaxation. All three of us speak at least some Spanish and study the language at SMU, so it was cool to be able to experience Spain and use our speaking skills a little bit. The clubs were expensive, but as one of the ladies from the beach said, ???the tourists, they come to Ibiza for the Discos.??? The experience was definitely worth the money.

At the Consortium for Street Children I have started drafting Human Resources policies for the organisation???s board to approve this week. The writing itself intrigues me and it feels incredible to be handed the responsibility of such important documents! The people in my office continue to be an absolute joy, and going to work everyday is really not the chore it is made out to be. Working with CSC has really opened my eyes to the world of civil society and the extreme deficits the U.S. faces with this sector. In the UK and most of Europe getting a job with any non-profit is an incredibly competitive process, and typically requires extensive education for even entry level jobs. That???s why we are so fortunate to even have these internships: getting visas for Americans who want to work in UK non-profits is nearly impossible. Compare that to America where new college grads can walk into a pretty comfortable position in reasonable size NGO and non-profits, and you understand where the inequities lie. Hopefully we can take what we have learned and maybe some of the passion of the incredible people we have worked with back to the states, which will be here all too soon.

– Jessica

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A call for change – and a new SMU Civil Society Club

When I first learned of the Global Civil Society Class Professor LaTour was going to offer for the summer in London program, I knew immediately it was something I had to go do; that this program was my window of opportunity to become part of something great.

I had no idea just how great my summer in London experience would be. As our time here in London is coming to an end, I feel like I’m just beginning.

Inspired by our class discussions and the jobs people are working on in their internships, I proposed our class start a Civil Society Club (CSC) on the SMU campus. We have learned so much in our short summer here, and it is our job to keep the amazing program Professor LaTour began alive and growing. She chose us for a reason, knowing we were up for the challenge and that we could carry on what she started.

Although Professor LaTour will not be back at SMU (and will be sorely missed by all her students!) with the CSC our group can build the relationships we have started at our internships and continue the expansion of the program.

The goal of the club is to raise awareness and empower students to make a positive change in the world by using communication skills that provide a knowledge and understanding of Global Civil Society.

As you can tell by all our journal entries, we are amazed and challenged by the work we are doing every day. I think it is important that not only communication students, but also the student body as a whole feels the impact of Civil Society and its importance.

We have all had experiences here that have possibly changed the way we will look at the world forever. There is so much we are capable of if we use our power to communicate and create awareness.

Within the work we are doing here we have all come to understand the gravity of the failure to make changes for the betterment of humanity. Mother Teresa once said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being uninvolved.”

Our time to get involved is now. As communication students, our job is to connect people to information and knowledge that can encourage change and create awareness. Through positive and effective communication maybe we can look forward to a future without poverty and helplessness.

-Jesse

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“Love that does justice”

Since the class where we discussed Michael Edwards’ speech on “love that does justice,” I wondered is it really that simple – can love change the world through justice, as Martin Luther King said? Could a deep selfless, societal love fix and change the major world issues, such as those faced in Africa by millions? Or is it just a nice thought that raises more questions than answers? Could an individual’s love for another be the ultimate answer or do we need passion for others to inspire action? If I had to answer, I would say the latter.

It seems to me that love or that trusting optimism that you have as a child, unfortunately, changes to knowledge of the world, and in a way isolationism. However, I think those things that you have a passion for as a child never really dies. Yes, maybe simmers and is somewhat faded, but never really dies. When I go in to work, I wonder to myself, is the reason all of my colleagues work for africapractice out of selfless love for people they will never meet in Africa or some sort of passion they have for changing the world? Are they interconnected somehow or are there individual drivers for working?

The problem I find with Edwards’ argument, and thus I make this argument that passion is the change we need: We as human beings are selfish by nature; we weigh our actions on a cost-benefit analysis. When you say that the world can be changed by selfless love, you completely go against our human nature. However, passion leaves room for some selfishness. If my colleagues are working out of a personal passion to help others and change the world, they themselves get some personal validation.

Some of the greatest movements in history were not driven from love, but rather passion. The American Women Suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, and the French Revolution (my inspiration for these thoughts, which was brought about by Les Mis) were organized and fought not out of selfless love, but out of the passion and anger to change societal norms for themselves and future generations. Thus, I ask, has my generation lost this passion or is the rise of the civil society our revolutions and protest?

Kelly C, Africapractice

Kelly C is a senior CCPA major from Fairfax, Va., who’s interning with Africapractice.
www.africapractice.com

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Round the World

At lunch today, I was asked, “What is it that you like most about London?” After thinking about all the things I love about London, including its blend of historical and modern architecture, its selection of unique markets, and its rich history, my answer was obvious.
Looking around our table, which included two Australians, two Romanians, two Englishman, a South African and two Texans, I responded, “I love the wide mix of cultures that only London has.”

Here a variety of people and ethnic groups fill the streets, tubes and buses. Before coming to the city, I thought I would hear English accents everywhere and everyone would look pretty much the same. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In fact, British English, apart from work, is what I have heard the least.

London is a true melting pot of cultures and languages. As a Spanish major and French minor, I am person who loves to learn new languages and examine the different ways people communicate. With all the languages spoken all around including Russian, Chinese, Spanish, Romanian, French and many more, it has been fun just listening and picking up on each one. Even the English here has been an adventure to discern. Although I thought it was going to be simple to understand people here, I find myself constantly asking them to repeat themselves.

As in the states, London has its own unique words such as “cheers” used as a salutation, a toast, a farewell and pretty much anything; “no worries” to mean no problem; and “brilliant” to mean great or cool. I plan to take some of these words to use in everyday talks back in the states, which will probably annoy my friends, but will make me seem more cultured.

Leaving the restaurant, my fellow Texan and I reflected on the amazing opportunities we’ve had to meet a variety of people from around the world in one place. It could only happen in this city. It could only happen in London.

-Esmeralda

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