SUSI: A Unique Learning Experience
Sunera Saba Khan
The Study of the United States Institutes (SUSI), for student leaders is a month-long study programme of the US Institutes focusing on New Media and Leadership. The programme is funded by the US State Department and is open every year to foreign undergraduate student leaders.
The 2012 SUSI program on the New Media and Leadership Studies of the US Institutes was hosted by the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, USA. A total of 20 student delegates from four countries namely- Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka participated in the programme. Five undergraduate students (Sunera, Supria, Persia, Montasir and Hassan) from different educational institutions in Bangladesh: students from University of Dhaka, Military Institute of Science and Technology (MIST), Islamic International University Chittagong (IIUC), Khulna University and Jessore Mohila College got selected and had the privilege of attending this intensive summer course.
The delegates from different countries who participated in SUSI 2012. Courtesy: Sunera Saba Khan
The main objective of the programme was to make participants understand the role of the new media and issues connected with it. It also aimed to develop competency in basic multimedia skills and the opportunity to use journalistic and interactive social media tools. Apart from the academic, practical and technical strand an exposure to American life and media was provided through visits to Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco and Washington DC. Another dimension of the programme was the platform to develop leadership skills through an array of interesting activities and exercises.
The programme was very comprehensive and well organised. It had doses of fun as well as academic input in the right proportions. We were over the moon working on our iPads and wished we could carry them home. To our utter surprise and joy, Facebooking was allowed in class. We had the privilege of attending classes and lectures given by some of the best professors of Oklahoma University. We had classes on new media information distribution, video capturing and editing, media ethics and social media. We also studied about the interrelationship between Race, Gender, Ethnicity and Media.
In Bangladesh, students operate in an exam oriented culture and in the US we were enrolled in a summer course, which was not followed by exams. We had assignments- which were writing blogs on tumblr and we had to write a project proposal for which we would be winning a mini grant. All our blogs were used to prepare the ibook, which we all will treasure forever. All our learning took place in a relaxed and friendly environment, which made all the difference.
Giving back to the community or public service was a part of our SUSI programme. We helped build houses. We also visited 'Habitat for Humanity,' a non- profit organisation that has built over 500,000 decent affordable houses and served 2.5 million people worldwide. We were taken to JD McCarty centre for children with developmental disabilities. This was an awareness raising experience for us. For our final community service we were taken to 'Full Circle Adult Day Care Center'. This novel experience gave us the opportunity to interact with people from different social and cultural backgrounds and get an insight into how older Americans experience their worlds.
Our first weekend was spent in Texas, and we went to 'Six Flags over Texas'. At Six Flags, I did not miss out on a single ride and went for skydiving too. While we were at Oklahoma over the weekends we were taken to the 'PaseoArts' festival and saw the most magnificent play theatre where one could make one's own puppet and tell a story. We spent a weekend in Oklahoma with our host families. This completed our insight of the American life.
From Oklahoma we left for San Francisco and stayed at the most gorgeous Courtyard Marriot hotel. I got a room, which was overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the view was breathtaking. Our next and final destination was Washington DC. We made trips to the Newseum and were given the freedom to explore Washington by ourselves. Getting used to the metro was an easy thing, though I did get lost once. We went on a moonlit tour in Washington, went past the White House, visited the Space, Spy, crime, portrait museum and visited the US Capitol. We reached home on June 24. SUSI will forever remain as an unforgettable experience of my life.
(The writer is a fourth year student of the Department of Economics, University of Dhaka and SUSI participant, 2012.)
DID YOU KNOW?
The legendary poet of humorous Bengali poems Sukumar Ray was born in Calcutta, India on 30 October 1887. Renowned as the most famous Bengali practitioner of literary nonsense, Sukumar Ray is the author of famous collection of poems "Aboltabol", novella "HaJaBaRaLa", short story collection "Pagla Dashu" and play "Chalachittachanchari". Sukumar Ray was the son of famous Upendrakishore Ray (Ray Chowdhury) and the father of celebrated Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray and grandfather of famous Bengali filmmaker Sandip Ray. In 1906, Sukumar graduated with Honours in Physics and Chemistry from the Presidency College, Kolkata. He was trained in photography and printing technology in England at the School of Photo-Engraving and Lithography, London, and was a pioneer of photography and lithography in India. Most of his literary works for children were widely complimented, both home and abroad, and Sukumar had also been an acclaimed illustrator.
Information Source: Internet.