Experiences on Flights to the Gateway of Knowledge

I am a special scholar among the 18 SUSI 2024 fellowship recipients, one who does not have a graduate degree in journalism and media. Nearly all of the scholars are journalism lecturers, journalists, researchers, and professors from eighteen different countries gathering together at the Cronkite School of Journalism, at Arizona State University in Phoenix as of June 3, 2024. 

However, I personally really like working in journalism and media. As someone who has needed to rely on and develop personnel working in the information and mass communication areas of journalism, I have had the opportunity to serve my university as the organizing host for international academic conferences, proofreading English content posted on the university website as well as my teaching activities and other relevant advertisements to help my university prepare to offer journalism and media courses in the near future. To understand this, I have studied some sources of journalism theories and practice in the appropriated journals—but 100 hours of individual reading cannot compare with an hour of discussion with experts.  

Heartfelt gratitude to the SUSI program 

I am extremely honored and humbled to be a recipient of the prestigious SUSI scholarship. I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for providing this life-changing opportunity. I believe the SUSI program is not just about financial support, but serves as a gateway to the world of knowledge, cultural exchange and personal growth. I am deeply grateful to the dean and selection committees for recognizing my potential and believing in my ability to contribute to the program, and deeply appropriate and thankful to the coordinators and program team for all support. Thanks to your trust in me, I am committed to making the most of this experience. I will actively engage with my peers, building last connections, and foster a spirit of collaboration and understanding, I am excited to learn about United States history, society and democratic institutions. Upon my return to my home country, I will strive to be an ambassador for the SUSI program, to promote cross-cultural understanding and cooperation. The experiences gained from this will contribute the development and progress of my country, and especially my organization. 

Getting started on my learning path

On May 31, the day before my departure, Mr. Greg Aurit, Public Affairs Officer and First Secretary of the Public Diplomacy Section for the U.S. Embassy to Laos, held a short pre-departure orientation for me. On June 1 I started my flight from my home country to Survanabpomi Airport in Thailand, Haneda International Airport in Japan, Los Angeles International airport, and finally arrived at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. This almost 50-hour journey longest I’ve personally traveled in my life. During my flights, I learned a lot of things just by traveling, observing cultures and meeting new people. I met three new friends during my flights, people from Singapore, Turkey and the US; we shared personal life experiences, cultures and contact information. I also had some different types of food on board such as Thai food, Japanese food, Italian-style polpettini with summer vegetables and corn rice, and American food like a meatball lunch with mashed potatoes, green beans, a roll, cheese and crackers, a mini salad with vinaigrette dressing, and a carrot cake slice. 

From my first day in America, it is an exciting situation: unbelievably, I am here at Arizona State University getting to know my new roommate, Mr. Flywell Samir Dosha Simkonda from  Malawi. We discussed and shared about our personal life, cultures and academic experiences; we learnt from each other. I especially learned new things about Malawi customs like freedom of marriage.

Two gentlemen standing front of a sign proclaiming "Regional ELT Forum 2024." One is holding a US Flag, the other a Laotian flag
Short orientation by the Embassy to Laos

Experiences from June 3-6 

From June 3rd through 6th I had a number of learning experiences. Firstly, on Monday morning all of the scholars gathered in Cronkite room 444 to get started with introductions. I go second, too soon to be able to say much about myself. I felt excited to know other participants from different backgrounds, all with different knowledge and skills relating to the field of journalism and media…  except me. We meet the project team, and they are professional, friendly, and supportive.

On days 2-4 I attended various lectures and made a recording to understand the program more deeply. The program is very organized, with many activities such as learning about ASU, U.S culture, living guidelines. We had a tour around the downtown campus of Arizona state University, and visited excellent TV News programs from Cronkite News to NBC News 12, even standing for more than an hour in front of a live broadcast, which was very interesting to observe. On the afternoon of June 6 we visited the basketball arena, the Footprint Center, and I had an opportunity to discuss with the follow scholars about cultures, feelings, cultures, teaching journalism, and media as well as teaching contexts, teaching experiences and research. 

Four days in, I have learned more about journalism and media course management, TV broadcast implementation, ASU’s course management system, and some of U.S culture. I can see why Arizona State University is ranked among the top 10 of “best value” public universities, top 10 in the nation for patents, and top 15 in the U.S for undergraduate teaching. 

Finally, the American people are great. The first day I arrived, I was discovering places here in Phoenix like Toni Tempest Studios, Fry’s, the Arizona Center, Uptown Farmers Market, the UPS store for shipping, and more. I have walked around alone, but it was very challenging since I have no internet access searching on Google Maps: I just asked ten people on the street. They were all very helpful, they made lovely conversation and gave clear instructions, and two people led me to the places themselves. I am very happy and feel more comfortable with fantastic people’s smiles and welcoming faces.