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COMM 419 H World Media Systems
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Marta Millar

Paterno Fellow
Major: History, German, International Relations
Minor: French, International Studies
Hometown: State College

How did you learn about this opportunity?

Dr. Stoller originally spoke about this course and the embedded study abroad during SHO time, Schreyer Honors College Orientation, for the class of 2018. I then attended an information session advertised for in the Schreyer Honors College weekly newsletter, which explained more about the class and the embedded travel component.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

My class travelled to South Africa over spring break to learn about the media system there. We met with a number of different parties, including a communications professor from the Witwatersrand University, communications officers from the US Consulate, the director of the United Nations Information Center in Pretoria, and various members of the media. These members of the media included SABC, Radio Pretoria, and Jozi FM. We sat in on the editorial staff meetings of the Sun and the Afrikaans newspaper Die Beeld, as well as tour their headquarters. We also met with Media Monitoring Africa, an NGO which assess the ethics of different papers and their content, and during a lunch I got to talk to the head of this organization at length and hear his fascinating views on South African, Zimbabwean, and American politics. Between meetings we visited several prominent South African landmarks like the Voortrekker Monument, Freedom Park, Soweto, and Nelson Mandela's house. This trip gave me amazing insight into how different factions of the South African media function. We also received incredible insight into how the media, and the country of South Africa as a whole, have developed since the fall of apartheid. Many of the speakers we were in contact with lived under the apartheid regime in South Africa and could provide first-hand accounts of that era.

"This trip gave me amazing insight into how different factions of the South African media function." 

How did this experience impact you academically?

This class provided an interesting crossover between two of my majors, history and international politics. Learning about the media system in South Africa before, during, and after the apartheid era required critically thinking about the historical and political context. Analyzing the South African media with regards to our own media system also helped me shape a global perspective and provided more insight into my own culture and society.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I am extremely interested in working either for the US State Department or the United Nations after I graduate, so visiting both of these places while abroad was a valuable experience. Additionally, my dream job working for the State department would be in the publication / communication field, so this trip was extremely valuable to me in building a sense of what that could be like in another society other than the US media. It gave me a greater sense of the different ways news and information move around the world, and how things like politics and economics can shape this flow of information.

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I would definitely recommend this experience to others. The close nature of the class provided us amazing and intimate opportunities to act with some of the most important people in the various branches of the media, and gave us incredible insight into their philosophies and challenges.

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