by Lindsay Boyle
In early January, two weeks after students who studied abroad in Zambia returned to the U.S., the trip was still receiving regular coverage from outlets including the Athens News, the New Political and the Post.
Those publications and more featured stories telling of the experiences students had and their resulting reactions, but rarely did articles cover the individuals who made the program possible.
On the Athens end of things, journalism professor Dr. Yusuf Kalyango played a large role in organizing the Zambia study abroad program, but he did so with much help from two other colleagues: Kenny Makungu and Dr. Monika Kopytowska.
Makungu and Kopytowska were scholars in the Study of the U.S. Institute on Journalism and Media at Ohio University in 2010 and 2011 respectively. For the past two summers, journalism and media scholars from more than 30 different countries spent six weeks at OU through a program administered by the Institute for International Journalism in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.
The SUSI summer institute is funded by an annual renewable grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Study of the U.S. Branch in the Office of Academic Exchange Programs.
During the SUSI program, journalists from different backgrounds are encouraged to learn about several aspects and issues of modern journalism through both hands-on experience and involved discussions. While at the university, SUSI scholars attend conferences and lectures, visit local media organizations and meet and work with journalism professionals.
It was during Makungu’s time in Athens in 2010 that the idea for a study abroad program in his home country was born. “I discussed it with Dr. Kalyango and we agreed to develop the program in Zambia together,” Makungu said.
For more than a year, beginning in December 2010, Kalyango and Makungu worked to set up the program’s itinerary, contacting and meeting with several different organizations to find places where students could intern or visit and people who would talk to the students as part of the journalism coursework.
Makungu, who is a senior lecturer in journalism and mass communication at the University of Zambia in Lusaka, also taught one of the two courses students took, lecturing for one hour two times a week about the various issues and aspects of Zambian media.
In addition, Makungu willingly provided transportation to students’ internships and additional activities, even when those activities were late night adventures.
“I was glad to be involved with the project,” Makungu said. “I miss being with [the students].”
Kopytowska is an assistant professor of linguistics and media at the University of Lodz in Poland and also a visiting professor and researcher at the University of Nairobi in Kenya. She flew to Zambia from Kenya to spend a few weeks participating in and enhancing the study abroad program.
She guest lectured on two occasions, first talking about the role of conflict in media and politics in countries across Africa. During the following class, Kopytowska acted as a moderator for student group presentations that explained factors that led to conflict in different African countries, such as Rwanda. The exercise proved to be useful in extending the students’ knowledge beyond the borders of Zambia.
Kopytowska also attended several events with the students, including nightly dinners, an outing to the Mukuni Big Five Safaris to see elephants, lions and cheetahs up close and even bungee jumping off the bridge at Victoria Falls in between Zambia and Zimbabwe. During and en route to such events, Kopytowska often provided students with invaluable information about her journalistic and life experiences.
“I enjoyed every aspect of [the program], from teaching to listening to the chief and from dancing in the disco to bungee jumping,” Kopytowska said. “Observing the students in their daily Zambian explorations and seeing how much they benefited from it made me enjoy it even more.”
Makungu’s and Kopytowska’s involvement with the Zambia study abroad program is just one example of post-SUSI projects for past scholars that are funded by the OU IIJ.