Sunday, May 29, 2011

College, Community, and Cholera

Earlier this week I had a conversation with another reporter what kind of stories we prefer reporting. She said, "If I could do a feature once a month, I'm a happy girl." For me, it's stories about education and college.

About two weeks, I reported that Southern Oregon University was named on the Presidential Honor Roll for community service. Many of the award-garnering hours came from field research or lengthy, informative field trips that were part of the course curriculum. SOU also organizes Alternative Spring Break trips. Students pay and pack up to go to another part of the country, or world, to do intensive service work.

I enjoyed the story because it reminded me of my 3 Jan-Terms doing something very simliar. Those trips had a profound impact on me. Everything from who I spent time with, the importance I placed on possessions (or lack thereof), how I viewed situations of poverty, to what difference I felt like I could make in the world. The trips blew my mind and heart.

Earlier this week, San Francisco's ABC affiliate reported on Jan Term. They talked with students and professors of several trips, including Shawny Anderson (2:20) who led my trips. I think it's great that the local stations is deciding this is a newsworthy story and that people have a chance to get a brief look at a very special feature of Saint Mary's. Here's ABC-7's story.

Two notes--
1.) In 3 and a half minutes, you can't fully tell the story of how several hundred students are changed my a total of a cumulative 2,000 days abroad. Given the time restraints and depth and breadth of the story, the reporter did a good job giving an overview and dipping into emotions and impacts.

2.) JanTerm experiences aren't exclusive to January. I spent a Spring Break in New Orleans. Last summer, Shawny took a group to Haiti. Right now, she's back with more students. They bought and brought solar-powered water purifiers to give much needed aid in the Haitian fight against Cholera.
Some of the students who are sleeping in tents, learning Creole, working long days, and eating "terrible" food, were the same students who walked across the stage in robes and a funny hat just one week ago.
They can't get enough education.
Neither can I.

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