The past four weeks were very productive, indeed! The melodramas ingrained with action, comedy, thriller, romance, and suspense made every session and activity colorful and exciting. It is no accident that we, the 15 scholars coming from around the world, converged for common goals – to learn, to influence, and to educate – that make the spirit of camaraderie and friendship even stronger. This cohesiveness was tested when three scholars became infected with COVID-19. The support system was overwhelming to let them feel that they were not alone during their battles (especially in a foreign land). Yes, we are all our brother’s keepers!
I may not be a very vocal scholar but my ears, eyes, and mind are wide open to listen to what has been said, see where journalism is leading, and decipher things impartially.
Now, we come to the final week of exploring America’s journalism, technology, and democracy. Can we ask for an extension? Of course not! Although the five-week program may be short to learn deeply the all subject matter, it is good enough to touch on everything, thanks to the generosity of the resource staff for lending us their materials that we can use to teach journalism in an even more thrilling and immersive manner. The beauty of new technology such as AR, VR, and XR as a tool make storytelling even more exciting, but it will remain only a dream for poor universities with very meager budgets. Sponsors wanted!
Yes, although the program will come to an end the fond memories will remain, that’s for sure! “Unity amidst diversity can be our working slogan.” As I said, I may not be vocal but things are still fresh in my mind, and I have held onto these terms, things, events, and so on which became part of our existence in Phoenix. Let me share some with you.
Who will ever forget Fry’s? This has become our refuge when restaurants around the university belt are closed during weekends. How about Waymo? Though I haven’t tried to ride one, it has become a head turner on the streets in downtown Phoenix. The Lyft, Uber, AziMo, Bus, and Metro Light Rail made our lives easy in exploring Arizona in our free time. Tempe Marketplace, Best Buy, Walmart, Scottsdale Fashion Square, Goodwill, and Camelback Colonnade are the go-tos for the shopaholics. For those who are craving rice, Panda Express comes to the rescue! How about pizza? This has become part of our diet but as a Filipino, I am still craving rice. I thank Ekaphone for sharing with me his rice and rice cooker which he brought from Laos.
For coffee lovers, Starbucks is within easy reach! Taylor Place has become our home away from home. And Cronkite’s seminar room 355 will always be in our memory as it became part of our American journey. Our last session in this room capped with Dr. Bill Silcock, former assistant dean and Cronkite Global Initiatives director, who gave us tips on connecting to international academic networks, both individually and at the institutional level, to strengthen our profile on social media like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to raise our visibility, and serve as true leaders once we return to our home countries.
Our exposure to American culture was superb. The oldest rodeo in Prescott was astonishing. The horsemanship, roping abilities and cattle wrestling of the cowboys brought the audience to resounding applause in appreciation of their skills. (We felt sorry for the calves though.) The baseball game was pretty fun as well. Like the Rodeo, it was my first time watching the game live. And who would forget the Heard Museum? It was founded in 1929 and houses the finest collections of American Indigenous art and artifacts. Thanks to Mr. Dewayne Matthews for the in-depth story of each museum piece and for giving us a glimpse of the culture and traditions of the Native people of the American Southwest.
The teaching hospital paved its way into our psyche and its realization is now at our fingertips. Fact-checking tools which are readily available online are overwhelming. Debunking mis-and disinformation is everyone’s concern as it soaked deeply to the very core of both traditional and new media and reached the depth and width of the earth. The scholars’ research projects are admirable. Despite the very limited time, we were able to come up with doable and relevant research projects. Let me know if you want me to replicate those studies in the Philippines setting–I can be of help!
Bidding goodbye is not an easy thing to do. Very melancholic! As I stare out my room’s window waiting for the sun to rise and set, and adoring those high rise buildings from afar, the song of Lady Gaga’s “Remember us this way” snatched my emotion. Yes, I tell you, I may be strong but very emotional.
That Arizona sky burnin' in your eyes
You look at me and, babe, I wanna catch on fire
It's buried in my soul like California gold
You found the light in me that I couldn't find
So when I'm all choked up
But I can't find the words
Every time we say goodbye
Baby, it hurts
When the sun goes down
And the band won't play
I'll always remember us this way.
For those who are not familiar with the song, I will try to hum this during our farewell party on Saturday. I hope I won’t ruin the gathering!
Yes, the program may be over but let’s make this the beginning of professional collaborations. The Arizona sun may have hurt us but its heat will remain to keep us going, to reach our dreams for our respective universities and countries. The sun may be out and we cannot see each other physically, but rest assured I will always remember everyone, the SUSI way!