by Mitch McKenney
Eighteen Kent State students and their two professors, Gary Hanson and Mitch McKenney, spent nine days in Noida, near Delhi, in India’s Uttar Pradesh, in March 2012 to produce this multimedia collection of news and feature stories. Their hosts at Amity University provided student-partners who served as guides, collaborators and translators.
Below, McKenney explains how this project came together.
Year Two: After our similar and successful effort last year with DatelineShanghai, Gary and I wanted to find an equally challenging destination for a new group of students. As it turned out, Kent State had just opened an office in India, so we proposed cloning the basic structure of the first International Storytelling course — traveling for two weeks in spring term, partnering with an English-speaking journalism program, creating a multimedia site of stories, saving some time for tourism for the end. It would be more pioneering than our destination in China, where the university already had a relationship, but we were up for an expedition.
Not more of the same: We like this course structure because, as I put it in last year’s About page, it gives students a chance to practice journalism while broadening their view of the world, combining the academically popular ideas of “international experience” with “experiential learning.” But while India and China share chart-topping population and important roles in our students’ future by nature of their developing economic powerhouses, this group’s experiences were quite different. We all lost time to a less-developed transportation system, and despite their best efforts to choose foods carefully and avoid tap water, many on the team battled illness at some point. But they came home with notebooks and external computer drives full of material leading to this site.
A lesson from 7,500 miles away: The teams set out in jostling, horn-honking rides across Delhi to schools, slums, temples, orphanages and buildings under construction, finding a variety of stories that didn’t always match their expectations. A good lesson for young journalists: You can brief yourself only so much — you won’t know the story until you actually do the reporting.
A favorite story I tell is something that went wrong. A bus driver turned down a narrow dirt alley thinking it would lead our group to a visit to a network news headquarters. Instead it gave us an up-close look at a dingy neighborhood – including a smelly trash pile – horrifying our hosts. We rolled slowly down the pungent lane until we could roll no more; now cars were in the way and would have to be moved. Dozens of bystanders just stared and smiled for the 10 or so minutes we were stuck there, recognizing an interesting scene when they saw one. But that’s what we came for, a look at India that’s as unvarnished as possible.
Goa and Mumbai: After we finished our nine days of reporting near Delhi — including a daytrip to the Taj Mahal — we flew to Goa, a former Portuguese colony and hippie beach hangout in southwest India, for some down time at the Arabian Sea. Many were wishing we could stay here longer than just two days, though bustling Mumbai and its 97-degree forecast awaited. It was good to reward the hard work with a chance to see more of India.
Now they come to Kent: As with last year, LuEtt Hanson, our college’s associate dean and Gary’s wife, was along to help our student-travelers and plan future collaborations with our Amity hosts. The fruit of that planning comes in September 2012, when we’ll reverse the roles and host a group of Amity University students at Kent State. It will be interesting to see what stories the 16 young journalists from India pursue when they get here.
About this site: It went live April 30, 2012. Credit goes to Ben Hollis, senior instructional designer, for its design. Click on the links to read more about Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and Amity University, as well for bios of Gary Hanson and Mitch McKenney.
Biographies of the 18 International Storytelling students who went to India:
Kristin Bauer: I am a senior photojournalism major and photo illustration minor, originally from Westlake, Oh. I expect to graduate in December 2012 and then possibly may attend graduate school for curatorship and digital archiving. In addition to my studies, I am a member of the Kent State Figure Skating team. I work part time at many places on campus such as: The Equipment Services Lab, Daily Kent Stater, University Communications and Marketing, Fusion Magazine, and College of Communication and Information. In going to India, I not only hope to experience another culture and way of life, but I also hope to broaden my understanding of international journalism, which will aid me in job searching after graduation.
Katy Brown: I am a broadcast news and international relations major from Charleston, WV. I plan to graduate in August 2012. While studying at Kent State, I have been active in student media. I have written for Kent State’s newspaper, the Daily Kent Stater; co-hosted and served as a reporter for Black Squirrel Radio’s “News in a Nutshell”; and produced, wrote, and reported for Kent State’s TV2. I was also part of Kent State’s first International Storytelling class, which traveled to China in March 2011. For this project, I hope to capture personal struggles and triumphs in India, a collection of lives and reality.
Laura Contrucci: I’m a visual communication design major and web design minor who will be graduating this May. I was born and raised in Kent but I love to travel, studied abroad in Florence last spring, and spent a couple of months studying in Rhode Island a few summers ago. Through most of my undergraduate career I worked in an office in White Hall, and I’ve also had a couple of summer internships–one at Kent State’s Alumni Association and one at Elevate Thinking, a branding agency in Columbus. Right now I’m a production intern at Invent Now, a non-profit in North Canton that organizes education programs for kids. With this class I hope to continue to broaden my view of the world and gain experience working with people from different disciplines.
Jacob Corcoran: I am a Junior Broadcast Journalism major at Kent State University. I am originally from the beautiful Township of Cranberry, a northern suburb of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. My family consists of my two parents and their five children; I am the fourth out of five. Before traveling to India, I had never left the country, let alone flown on a plane! In my spare time I enjoy watching and playing sports, experiencing the outdoors, and spending time with my family. I aspire to work in sports broadcasting when I leave Kent State University (hopefully) next spring, 2013.
Anne Dudley: I am a journalism and mass communication graduate student working on my Master of Arts degree in public relations. I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies from Kent State in 2010. I will graduate in May 2012, and I am hoping to work in higher education administration in communications, special events or recruitment. I am interested in strategic events in public relations and am building a course on the topic for my master’s professional project. I am thrilled to be joining the International Storytelling course as a personal and professional challenge and new cultural experience.
Nathan Edwards: I am a senior video journalist who has served in a number of roles at Kent State University. I am an active member of TV2 KSU, Kent State’s student-run television station serving Portage County. During my time at the station I have been the General Manager, the News Director, the Chief Photographer, as well as a producer and a reporter. I have also served as the Black Squirrel Radio News Director and news talk radio host. In addition to my work in student media, I have had three internships at WDTN-Dayton, WKBN-Youngstown and Patch-Northeast Ohio. Once my college career is over, I plan to report and produce in a local news market.
Anthony Ezzo: I am a junior broadcast journalism major. I have reported and produced for TV2 KSU. I am from Twinsburg, Ohio, and I have an older brother and two younger sisters. I come from a very close family. I have been a waiter at Bob Evans for five years. India is the first country I visited outside the U.s., and I hope to continue to travel abroad in the years to come!
Meghan Hawsman: I am from Cuyahoga Falls and still live there at home. (Hey, it’s free!) I am majoring in organizational communication. (Anyone who knows me or will meet me in the future will find this very appropriate because I love to talk.) I plan to graduate May 2012 if everything goes as planned. I am interested in going to India because I am not sure when I will ever get this opportunity again. Traveling to India will force me to become familiar with another culture that is so very different from my own.
Courtney Kerrigan: I am a senior magazine journalism major from Columbiana, Ohio, and I expect to graduate in May 2012. I do freelance work for Cleveland Scene Magazine writing concert previews, band interviews, and sometimes music features. I’m also a waitress at Wild Goat’s Cafe in Kent on the weekends and a study abroad assistant in the College of Communication and Information during the school year. After studying in Florence, Italy, for four months last spring semester I caught the travel bug and now have a desire to travel anywhere and everywhere. This project not only gives me the chance to do that, but also allows me to gain global experience in my field of study. Not to mention that the culture is fascinating.
Danielle Manfredi: I am a broadcast journalism major with a minor in political science, and I expect to graduate in December of 2012. I have been a reporter and a correspondent for TV2 KSU’s news program. In addition to my work with TV2, I am a server at a restaurant, and volunteer at the Champion Events Center, in Canton, to raise money for Bluecoats Drum and Bugle Corps.
Monica Maschak: I am a senior photojournalism major graduating in May 2012. I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and decided to come to Kent State University because of its excellent journalism (more importantly, photojournalism) program. This semester, in addition to carrying 18 credit hours, I am the Assistant Photo Editor at the Daily Kent Stater. In my time here at Kent, I have discovered my ultimate interest is in documentary multimedia pieces. This brings me to what my interest is for the outcome of this International Storytelling class: I would love to document New Delhi in a way that would break the stereotypical thoughts that many have in our first world culture. I’m excited to kick-start my documentary career with this class.
Katie Rickman: I am a senior photojournalism major. I love to travel and tell stories through photography. I grew up in a small town not too far from Kent and look forward to graduating and moving to a bigger city. I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to end up doing after graduation, but I’m excited about the endless opportunities out there. The sky is the limit when you have a camera in your hand — and a good cup of coffee in the other.
Megan Shaw: I’m a junior broadcast journalism major, and I expect to graduate in May 2013, if all goes as planned. I am from a small town called Coshocton, Ohio. It’s only about an hour and a half away; however, I’m continually asked if it’s out-of-state. I am very active in TV2, Kent State’s student-run television station. This semester I am serving as the Assignment Manger for the station in addition to anchoring the Wednesday newscasts. When I graduate I plan to move south and work as a general assignment reporter. I enjoy being out in the field and talking to new people every day. During this project I want to learn the differences and similarities in the education systems in the US and India. I am interested to learn how they begin and end their learning process.
Jennifer Shore: I am a senior magazine journalism major with an English minor. Currently, I am the managing editor for visuals for the Daily Kent Stater, the managing editor of The Burr and an editorial intern at the Kent State University Press. I graduate in May, and I don’t plan to return to my hometown of Mars, Pa., which is 30 minutes north of Pittsburgh. I love reporting, writing and editing, so I hope to go into book publishing/editing or magazine writing/editing.
Jessica Schmidt: I’m a broadcast journalism and psychology dual major planning to graduate in the spring of 2013. I’m originally from a suburb of Cincinnati and hope to spend some time working there one day. I’m a very active member of Kent State University’s student-run television station TV2 KSU. I’ve reported, anchored, assistant produced, floor directed, and acted as a debate moderator. Currently, I’m on the board of directors as the Classroom Content Manager. I absolutely love what I do, and I can’t wait to share my passion with the people I meet in India. I’ve always wanted to travel abroad and explore different cultures. I knew I just had to grab hold of such a great opportunity!
Anthony Vence: My name is Anthony Vence, and I am a senior photojournalism major at Kent State University. I was born and raised in Rochester, N.Y. Photography became a passion for me after I took a film photography class during my senior year of high school. I really enjoyed the variety of images that could be captured through photography and the concept of capturing the perfect moment. I later gained interest in journalism after completing my sophomore year of college. I started following the news more frequently and became interested in feature stories. That is when I decided I wanted to take my skills as a photographer and try to learn journalistic skills to become a photojournalist. I am looking forward to taking my skills as a photographer and a journalist to India. I am excited to see the unique culture and landscape that makes up India.
Melinda Yoho: I am a senior majoring in photo illustration and minoring in photojournalism, expecting to graduate in 2013. I live in Cuyahoga Falls. I am the photographer/designer for the College of Communication and Information’s marketing team, and I do freelance work for various departments around campus. I worked as choreographer and Senior Still Photography and Graphic Design Manager for KSU Independent Films’ “Research: The Musical,” which I am currently helping to promote. I studied photography abroad last year in Turkey and Greece. I have a number of Indian friends, and I am excited to experience some of their culture first-hand. I am interested in Dalit ministry and Christian minorities.
Maura Zurick: I’m originally from Freedom, Pennsylvania, a small town just north of Pittsburgh. I decided to come to Kent State because of my passion for writing and traveling, and Kent had great opportunities for both. I am a junior newspaper journalism and international relations major. I studied abroad in Florence, Italy during my freshman year and that furthered my love of travel. I have an amazing family who helps make all of my travel goals possible. I’m a reporter for the Daily Kent Stater and a member of Amnesty International and Phi Sigma Pi. I plan to travel the world and report on culture, politics and human rights.