September 30, 2010
Students travel halfway around the world to study intercultural communication.
A group of seven EIU undergraduate students in Communication Studies traveled to New Zealand and Australia to complete six hours of class this past summer. The 33 day trip, involving 21 days in New Zealand and 12 days in Australia was preceded by several months of planning. The trip took them throughout New Zealand – from Auckland to Dunedin – and in Australia, along the East Coast from Sydney to Port Douglas.
“I really liked all of the places we went on this trip and learned a lot about the two countries we visited. Everywhere we went, the locals were extremely friendly and there were many things to do.” (Sara Boro, Summer 2010 participant)
As another student put it, “When I started the program in Communication Studies, I never anticipated that it would take me to the other side of the world. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. It really gave me a new perspective on what it means to be from the United States and helped me find my place in the world.”
The students completed three hours of CMN 3710 (Intercultural Communication) and three hours of CMN 4000 (Independent Study). Sample independent study projects included “A comparative analysis of public music”, “Hostel Living”, “Branding and Marketing a Study Abroad Program”, and a radio documentary.
Students were able to take advantage of many unique experiences as part of the program. For the study of tourism and environmental communication students experienced a whale watching trip; an eco tour of seal lions, yellow-eyed penguins, and the royal albatross; geothermal hot spots and caves; a glacier walk; visited the Daintree Rainforest; and a trip to Milford Sound. For outdoor culture activities students participated in bungy jumping, canyon swinging, ziplining, skiing and snowboarding, and luging. For traditional cultural experiences, students visited Te Papa, Mitai, and Tjapaki.
The students were supervised by Mark Borzi, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Communication Studies and Melanie Mills, Ph.D., Professor of Communication. It was the first time for Dr. Mills to travel to these two countries and Dr. Borzi’s third trip.
The program was developed as a means to enhance students' experiences at the university. A short-term faculty-led program was an ideal way to expose students to different cultures. The course is designed to be an ethnographic immersion. This means that students participate in a long field trip instead of daily classroom time. There are class meetings prior to departure and then time to reflect and write up results after the trip.
The department is planning to repeat the program in the Summer of 2011. The program will be a little longer, 35 days instead of 33 days and incorporate more experiences in Australia. After next summer the program will be offered every two years. So if you don’t go next time you will not be able to go until the Summer of 2013.