How Going Abroad Helped Me Understand the Media World

This past spring break, I had the amazing opportunity to travel with Scripps’ partnership to Hong Kong Baptist University. While there I did some amazing sightseeing, met some great people, ate amazing soup dumplings and learned a lot about how journalism functions in Hong Kong. Being familiar with how public relations and journalism works in the U.S., it was eye-opening to view it in another country.

One main realization I had was that we are so lucky to have freedom of speech. I did not realize how sanctioned speech is in some countries before learning about how Hong Kong functions in relation to China. Hong Kong was under British rule until being handed over to China in 1997. 

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They have a “one country, two systems” ruling, and Hong Kong currently operates under democracy. As per the agreement between Britain and China, this system is set to expire in 2047. The Hong Kong publication that we visited, the Apple Daily, illustrated the speech restrictions in China. Many of their journalists are banned from China because of the stories they wrote against the government. China has many Internet bans that restrict citizens from using common social media and search engines. If you get a chance to do some light reading, look up the Umbrella Movement to see how lucky we are to have guaranteed free speech without worry about it being taken away

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Our main project at the school was to work with students from both Hong Kong and Germany to create a campaign for Uber. The main challenge was combining different cultures of work ethic into one cohesive project. The presentation was given in English, which presented a challenge to the other students, as English is not their native language. The students from Germany and Hong Kong dedicated a lot of time to rehearse in English, which I think is something we often take for granted. While most of the world speaks English, I never truly realized that communicating with English-speaking natives requires a lot more time and work. Most of Hong Kong speaks English, but when I was put into situations where people did not, I was lost, and I cannot imagine how they felt. Working with foreign students made me wish that I knew a second language. I will forever be impressed with their dedication to collaborating on a communications project in a foreign language.

Working with foreign students and learning more about worldwide media was incredibly eye-opening. If you ever have the opportunity to work with foreign students or travel abroad— take it. I am still in awe at how much I learned, and I hope to return to visit the beautiful country of Hong Kong and my new friends soon.

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Sarah Kelly is a senior double majoring in Strategic Communications and Marketing. You can catch her on Twitter @s_kelley14

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