By Benét J. Wilson, DJTF co-chair, Online Managing Editor-Business Aviation, Aviation Week Group
The University of Southern Mississippi is offering a three-week Study Abroad program in Ghana that will mix history and multimedia journalism courses. The course, scheduled for July 7-23, will visit historical sites that represent West African culture and history. As part of that, students will produce multimedia journalism stories that connect African history with American culture and traditions. Applications for the program are due by May 18, and the program is open to students from other universities and even non- students.
We speak with Gina Gayle, professor photojournalism and multimedia at the university’s School of Mass Communication and Journalism, on the program and what attendees can expect.
NABJDigital: How did you come up with the idea for the study abroad program?
Gina Gayle: The University of Southern Mississippi has really great international programs. I was casually speaking with Dr. Curtis Austin, a professor in the history department who created the Ghana program and did research in the country last summer. I mentioned that I’d love to go to Ghana with some of my students. We had lunch, I gave him a proposal and it came about that quickly.
ND: Why did you choose Ghana?
GG: I’ve always wanted to go to a country in Africa. Dr. Austin had gone last year and done the site research, so I just stepped in to offer my multimedia journalism course. My course will be historical in nature, with students tracing the history, culture and traditions of African-Americans that lived in Ghana and eventually came to southern Mississippi.
ND: When a student asks why they should attend this program, what do you tell them?
GG: It will be very historically rich because Dr. Austin is one of the teachers. He specializes in African-American history and I think that everyone should have the chance to study abroad and see different cultures. You can get an understanding of different things going in the country. I think people are nervous about race relations. If you can go and learn about a culture that’s different than your own, it takes away fears and misconceptions. Dr. Austin notes that African-American history didn’t start in America. We have a whole history on the African continent. You can find out who you were before ancestors your were enslaved. That crosses any racial divide. White people and black people should know about us before we were slaves. It can heal and help people.
ND: What kinds of stories do you think will appeal to students?
GG: We’re going to a lot of historical sites. The W.E.B. Du Bois Memorial Centre for Pan-African Culture is in Ghana. There are also slave castles and a lot of craft markets. We will also meet people who live and work in Ghana and trace the origins of things including fabrics, jewelry and African art.
ND: What types of multimedia projects do you expect the students to do?
GG: I expect them to do projects that include audio, still photography and video, and include at least two mediums in a story. I am having them find stories that best tell about their experience in Ghana and how relates to what they see in Southern Mississippi.
ND: What will you do with the projects once they are completed?
GG: Our Mass Communications Department has a student media center that is developing a Web site where the stories will be posted.