Study Abroad FIG Offers New Experiences

Freshman Jamie Berry is from Raymore, Missouri. Her roommate, junior Aki Taniguchi, is from Nagoya, Japan. The girls live on the first floor of Defoe-Graham, where sharing a room with someone that grew up half a world away is a normal thing. Berry and Taniguchi are part of the Exploring Studying Abroad Freshman Interest Group (FIG). “It’s for students who are interested in studying abroad and it teaches us about how to prepare for eventually studying abroad, like how to save money for it, different programs, what cultural things to expect,” Berry said. “By the end of the semester we have a plan to study abroad in the future.” Everyone in the FIG has an international roommate. “When I was trying to figure out where I wanted to live and who I wanted to live with, I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to room with somebody I already knew, so I thought I should just go to the total extreme and room with someone that is a total stranger from a completely different place,” Berry laughs. That total stranger ended up being Taniguchi, who is from the city of Nagoya, Japan. Nagoya is in the middle of the country between Tokyo and Osaka. Taniguchi began her college education at Nanzan University in Nagoya before deciding to study abroad in the United States to further her study of her major, which is anthropology. Taniguchi said that one of her favorite parts of studying in the United States so far had to do with teaching methods used by University of Missouri professors that differed from those used by her professors at Nanzan University. “I think it’s different because in Japan the professors, they start with examples, and after that they expand the idea and explain the basic idea of anthropology and what is culture and what should I do to understand people from other cultures, but in my anthropology class [here], first professor say the basic idea and what is culture, and then he explain in more details, so I can understand the very basic of anthropology,” Taniguchi said. “In Japan, my major was anthropology, but I didn’t know what is anthropology. I think it is weird.” Studying in a different country presents a lot of different challenges. Often one of the hardest to overcome is the language barrier, Taniguchi said, especially in the classroom. “It is really difficult to understand the English, especially the professors speak English really fast, the students speak really fast,” Taniguchi said. “In the beginning of the class I couldn’t understand what they were saying so it was really sad.” However, Taniguchi said that one of the best things about having a roommate from a different country is getting to learn and experience new things. “It’s, for me, to live with other person, it’s my first time,” Taniguchi said. “When I’m having trouble or I want to know American culture, I sometimes ask Jamie, like, I’ll ask her is it different and she really tells me a lot of American culture. It’s so different from Japanese culture. I often tell her about my life in Japan, to recognize our difference, but also our similarities. I feel like we are having really good experience I think.”

Taniguchi and Berry
Taniguchi and Berry
Japanese toys
Japanese toys
Fans featuring Japanese calligraphy
Fans featuring Japanese calligraphy
How to use chopsticks
How to hold your chopsticks
How to fold a paper crane
How to fold a paper crane
Taniguchi with a paper crane she folded
Taniguchi with a paper crane she folded
Taniguchi's paper crane
Taniguchi’s paper crane

An Evening of Inspiration

On Tuesday, October 28th, my FIG class had the privilege of attending the 2014 Missouri Honor Medal Banquet. To be honest, I wasn’t really that psyched initially about attending it. Basically, I knew that the purpose of the banquet was to honor seven notable journalists and publications. I knew the award-winning Guardian would be honored, which made me think, okay, this might be kind of a big deal. Maybe it’ll be interesting.

It was.

Sometimes in difficult moments of (probably typical) college major-related existential crises, often in the midst of stress related to setting up an interview or writing a story, I wonder if journalism is really the thing I should be pursuing. I think to myself, if I’m really so passionate about this subject, why am I getting so little enjoyment out of practicing it? These thoughts, though fleeting, nevertheless became a reoccurrence throughout this past semester. However, at the banquet, I was able to see what I could do; what my efforts as a journalist could possibly become. I can’t recall another moment in my life where I’ve experienced quite what I did on that evening a little over a month ago.

First of all, I was kind of starstruck just from being in the mere presence of such distinguished honorees. One medal winner was Audie Cornish, co-host of NPR’s long-running, award-winning show All Things Considered, which I’d listened to non-stop every time I was in the car with my aunt while visiting Seattle this summer (my official introduction to NPR). Audie’s voice, and her show, are iconic. At the reception that preceded the banquet, I tried to figure out what I would do and say if I happened to run into Audie. Instead, Mark Robinson ran into me. Features Editor at WIRED magazine, Mark was sent by the publication to collect the award. He approached a group of my friends and me and, of all things, began asking us what our motivation for being journalism majors was. I’m a fan of WIRED, and all I could think during the entire conversation was, wow, this guy is pretty high up. This is kind of a big deal.

During the actual ceremony, I was quite impressed with the accomplishments and the remarks made by all of the honorees, but I was especially struck by the acceptance speech given by two staff members from the Kyiv Post, Ukraine’s leading English-language newspaper since 1995. They spoke tearfully of reporters on the front lines and of violence throughout the country, and at the end were given a standing ovation by the entire room. Just before the two were medaled, it was announced that the newspaper was awarded “In recognition of courageous and determined professional reporting on behalf of democracy in the face of great personal risk.”

It was through these specific moments and many more that I was both inspired and empowered to work harder because I saw, literally right in front of me, seven prime examples of the great things one could do as a journalist, with an example in seemingly every medium. These individuals helped remind me why I’m in this thing. I want to learn anything and everything about the world around me; I want to help others; I want to tell stories; and, above all, I want to make an impact in people’s lives in the best way I know how: through my writing.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

For a play with only six cast members and put on in a tiny playhouse, I was mostly impressed with the Talking Horse’s production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher. Though my memory of the book version of the story is mostly vague, as it’s been years since I read it for school, if I recall the details correctly, the play did a pretty good job of following the book.

One exception was Hyde’s intimate relationship with “Elizabeth,” who I’m pretty sure is a made up character. The actress that played Elizabeth (doubling as the murdered prostitute, because, you know, six cast members) was very wrapped up in her role, so much so that everything made her scream. Like, everything. And by scream, I mean a shriek that can only be described as what a female actress may do when trying to act frightened while at the same time underestimating how close the audience is to the small stage.

Also, while I realize we viewed the play on the evening of the actors’ last dress rehearsal and did not see an actual production, the moving of that big red door on wheels could definitely have been more polished. Again, it was a small stage and the audience was very close, but the amount of noise made by the wheels was distracting, and the constant movement of the door was not very fluid. The red door was one of the few large props used in the play and had several purposes, representing many different…doors. Anyway,I digress. Maybe next time when using such a large prop that is required to move so many times, quieter wheels would be useful in such an intimate space.

One thing I found interesting was the use of two completely different main actors for Jekyll and Hyde, and especially two that were so different in appearance. In addition, there were several scenes in which three other actors, a third man and two women, portrayed Hyde, always donning a red mask. My symbolic mind would like to think that this was to represent the idea that Hyde could be anyone, both in the minds of the townspeople in the play and in real life. The fact that Hyde is portrayed by several different people both male and female hints at the idea that evil can take many different forms and is, in fact, inside all of us.

To Help or To Report?

Occurring from August 23, 2005, to August 31, 2005, Hurricane Katrina was by far the deadliest and most destructive Atlantic tropical storm of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. It is the costliest natural disaster, as well as one of the five deadliest hurricanes, in the history of the United States. At least 1,833 people died in the hurricane and in the floods that followed, making it the deadliest U.S. hurricane since the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane. Total property damage was estimated at $108 billion.

As with any natural disaster, the goal of reporting about this storm and its victims was to deal with it as gently as possible. Nevertheless, several ethical controversies arose. One dealt with the fact that victims of the storm were being photographed in very compromising positions by journalists. For example, some people whose houses had flooded took refuge on the roofs of their houses until they could be rescued. Iconic photographs were taken of these people, often from helicopters, by journalists, which raised the question – should the journalists that spotted them be helping these unfortunate people, or should they simply be reporting the story?

The journalistic purpose of these photographs was obviously to document what was happening to people in New Orleans at the time and show the public just how bad the damage was and how it was truly affecting the citizens – to report on what was happening. What the photographers did in this case is exactly what journalists are meant to do; that is, to seek truth and report it. The ethical controversy in this case is not about what the journalists who took the photos did, but what they didn’t do. The actual publication of the photos did not have a negative affect on the stakeholders, who are, in this case, the people photographed. You could even argue that the publication of the photos had a positive affect.

The problem with the photos taken was this: if the journalists could fly over the flooded streets and snap pictures of helpless victims standing on their rooftops waving for help, couldn’t they also rescue the victims?

This is not an uncommon dilemma in disasters. Journalists, who are there to see the story happen, are often blamed by the public after they report on terrible things that happen but do not intervene to improve the situation. In my opinion, though it is on a very situation-to-situation basis, the general rule should be that journalists do not involve themselves in their stories. The main reason I have for this is that, although I would want to help someone if I saw them struggling, a journalist cannot always be sure that what they do will minimize harm. This is one of the core ethical rules of journalism. I believe this especially if what they are tempted to involve themselves in will directly affect the story they are covering.

Victims of Hurricane Katrina take refuge on a rooftop. (BBC)