Visiting Scholars, Visiting Hometowns, Award Winning Book, and NCA

An Afternoon at Upland Brewery with Huy and Thien

Grad student Mary LaVenture wore a comfy and tan-colored sweater Sunday afternoon, to which Thien Truong commented, “You look like a mother bear.”  Followed by a burst of laughter, Thien and Huy Ky Do began to share their story of the past several weeks spent observing the Department of Telecommunications.   They are both visiting scholars from Hue University in Vietnam.  Before their trip to the States came to an end, Huy and Thien made the trip to Upland Brewery to sample some local brews and foods.

Huy and Thien first came to learn about IU from Professor Ron Osgood, who met them while traveling to Vietnam for work on his documentary.  They had the opportunity to come to Bloomington on a travel grant.  Huy and Thien are both fine arts instructors and plan to create a video production program in their department next year.  Asked what he will take away from IU experience, Huy said he has been most impressed by the people, culture and facilities here.

The classroom dynamics in the Department are much different from those at Hue University.  Huy explained that discussions are much more open here.  The environment allows for people of many different ages, races and backgrounds to interact.  Vietnam’s classrooms are much more formal.  In addition, the culture is one of respect.  Students in Vietnam, no matter what their age, always bow to the instructor as a sign of respect.

Outside of the classroom, a point of interest for both Huy and Thien is the local food culture.  The abundance of local markets in Vietnam makes it easy for people to use fresh ingredients and prepare meals in the home.  Some of the staples include rice, vegetables and fish. In Vietnam, food is something to be shared with family.  Coffee is also important to their culture, with coffeehouses and street vendors quite common.  Thien considers coffee to be more than a drink, it cultivates social activity as well. 

When asked to elaborate further on social activities, Huy explained he was too old for those kind of things, but Thien shared that he enjoys shooting pool and throwing darts with friends.

Huy was impressed with the easy access to museums, theaters and galleries compared to his native Vietnam.  While Huy and Thien explain that networks like CNN, BBC and HBO are quite popular, their nation’s news coverage is controlled.  Thien was surprised at the number of interviews in local TV news in the US.  In Vietnam, interviews are much more limited.

After spending several weeks in Bloomington, Huy and Thien have begun to miss their families.  Huy has two sons, ages 8 and 15.  Thien has a one-year-old daughter.  After sharing photos of their children, Thien shared another insight into their culture.  While Huy and Thien are both instructors in their department, Thien still calls  Huy ‘teacher’ as a sign of respect and friendship.

Sabbaticals Abroad and Returning Home

The student union at Cardiff University in Wales. Photo credit: Betsi Grabe

For faculty members, sabbaticals can be opportunities for travel and work, but for two of our own, the semester away from the department has been about returning home. Recently back from her travels abroad during her sabbatical, Professor Betsi Grabe says she spent much of her time reuniting with family and friends in and around her hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa. “Really, it was a trip about getting back to my roots,” she says.

For the beginning of her sabbatical travels abroad, Betsi was offered the opportunity to be a distinguished fellow at Cardiff University in Wales. “It was spectacular timing, and the invitation came right as I was planning sabbatical.” Betsi gave several talks on journalism at the university over the course of two weeks before heading to South Africa.

Once there, Betsi caught up with relatives and longtime friends before taking a short trip to the coastline of Mozambique, where her family once vacationed during her childhood. “I’ve travelled some in my life, and there is nothing like the beaches there,” Betsi says. “They’re so wide, and the skies there are so large, and there is no one in sight.”

Professor Betsi Grabe along the beaches and big African skies in Mozambique.

Fellow faculty member Mark Deuze, also on sabbatical, has spent much of the semester on a whirlwind tour to discuss media life and media work. Much like Betsi’s travels, Mark’s trip gave him the opportunity to reconnect with his homeland, as he spent some of his time in the Netherlands and visiting his hometown of Eindhoven. Mark presented at a special event at the university there, where an unexpected reunion occurred. “The event was in an amazing all-blue theater in the city where I grew up, so some old friends showed up by surprise,” he says.

Mark’s presentations and lectures spanned Europe, allowing him to check out several locations in the Netherlands as well as Portugal and Belgium. Many of the events focused on two of Mark’s current books and his forthcoming book Media Life, which will be out next year.

Award Winning Book: Image Bite Politics

Professors Betsi Grabe and Erik Bucy received the Distinguished Book Award from the Communication and Social Cognition division of NCA last week for their book, Image Bite Politics. The book also received the ICA’s Outstanding Book Award this year.

Grad Students at NCA

IU Telecom was well represented at the 96th annual Nation Communication Association conference in San Francisco. On Sunday Lindsay Ems (Ph.D. student) presented “Protesters use Microblogging Tools to Make Their Voices Heard in New Ways.” Then on Monday Nic Matthews (Ph.D. student) presented a poster on work done for Betsi’s content analysis class. Tuesday’s presentations included MA student Sanja Kapidzic (her work with Susan Herring) and Ph.D. student Mark Bell (a social media research panel).  Ph.D. students Matt Falk and Travis Ross (along with MA graduate Jim Cummings) also volunteered during the conference.

PhD student Nic Matthews presenting his poster on bathroom graffiti at NCA. Photo Credit: Mark Bell


Nicky Lewis: Visiting Scholars

Katie Birge: Sabbaticals Abroad and Award Winning Book

Special Thanks

Mark Bell: Photo and guest contribution for Grad Students at NCA

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