Every year the JMSC sends exchange students to America’s oldest and one of its best journalism schools at the University of Missouri.
The school is famed for its practical teaching methods which, like the JMSC, put a strong emphasis on experiential learning.
The exchange has been taking place since 2005. Over the last academic year, four students went to Missouri to immerse themselves in American culture and journalism practices.
Xiong Haotao, a year 3 BJ student from Guizhou Province in China, loved her time at the Missouri School of Journalism.
“Last semester, I chose the Newspaper Reporting class and worked as a journalist with the Missourian, which is a local daily newspaper run by Journalism Faculty members and students,” says Xiong.
“I was a reporter on the public life/city government beat; I covered a variety of stories from a lawsuit to local protests to the the city council meetings.”
“I made marked progress in news reporting throughout the semester. For example, initially it was painful for me to write a news brief based on a press release, but, by the end of the semester, I handled a big feature story.”
Xiong also worked as an editor at MyMisourian.com, a citizen journalism blog in which town folk share their stories, pictures and videos. She followed what was going on in town and gathered content from the public, covering, amongst other things, a documentary film festival in the local town via blogs and Twitter.
Xiong Haotao followed the exchange with an internship at New America Media, a San Francisco based non-profit association of ethnic media agencies across the United States.
See Jie Yi, a year 3 BJ student from Singapore, wanted to study in the States because she wanted to immerse herself in “the self-proclaimed free media of America.”
“My experience there made me rethink deeper and harder about journalism and the future of it,” says See.
“Now that everything is moving towards the digitalised world, many people in the University of Missouri are speculating that journalism will move towards a more interactive and user-friendly platform, relying on the interaction between readers and journalists through crowd-sourcing projects and social media such as Twitter and Facebook.”
See says that her highlights include spending her first winter in snow, travelling round the States and making new friends. The semester’s study also improved her journalism.
“I’ll bring back valuable skills such as using video cameras, video- and audio-editing skills and copy-editing,” she says. “Many of these skills can be applied back in Hong Kong and are very useful in terms of building up the toolbox that journalists ought to have.”
See followed her studies in America with a two month internship at The Jakarta Globe, the daily English-language newspaper in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Jennifer Lo is a year 3 BJ student from Hong Kong. She had always dreamed of studying in the States and was particularly keen to experience the unique “Missouri Method”.
“Comparatively, the University of Missouri offers much more hands-on training for students, who can choose to work in different media outlets at school according to their expertise and interests – including a TV station, a NPR member radio station, a culture magazine, a community newspaper, student-run advertising and a PR agency,” she says.
“Students are also very active – sometimes, the entire lesson is led by students’ discussion and interaction rather a professor speaking.”
Lo also comments on her exposure to a different working environment in Missouri compared to the sub-tropics of Hong Kong: “I still can’t forget the exciting experience of going out for an interview in minus 10 degree Celsius. As I didn’t have a car in Missouri, walking became part of my life during exchange. I once walked for more than 30 minutes in the snow to an interviewee’s house. With a map in hand and a tripod and video camera on my shoulders, that was the toughest walk I ever had!”
Lo followed her semester at the University of Missouri by touring major American cities over two weeks. She then returned to Hong Kong to intern at Hong Kong Magazine for the summer. She’s been writing about lifestyle, food, beauty, films, and doing interviews for the magazine.
All of the JMSC students say that the chance to study, live and work in the States has broadened their minds and experience.
“I had amazing exposure in the States, which is one of the countries in the world with a high degree of press freedom,” says Lo. “Current local and international news are often discussed in class. I’m glad that I have met a group of passionate, like-minded student journalists in MU!”
“I now perceive different beliefs and religions in a more open and tolerant way,” says Xiong. “The diversity of cultures, norms, as well as individual opinions provide dynamics for a society.”
“I’ve lived in Asia all my life and my experience in the States helped to introduce a new way of looking at things. Previously I had an Asian perspective on most issues,” says See.
“Though we can claim that the effects of globalisation flatten our world, I realise that people from the east and west have different ideas on a wide variety of topics such as democracy and human rights,” she continues.
“Being in the heartland of America, I got to hear the voices and opinions of mostly conservative Americans, people whom you rarely meet if you go on holiday to the U.S. east or west coasts. It was especially interesting to hear what people were saying about hot topics like Obama’s new health care policy.”
Three students are lined up to go to Missouri next year. The JMSC will be taking one student from the University of Missouri.