Breaking Barriers in the Media

The media has its way of portraying groups of people in certain ways. For instance Asians in American film are usually cast into martial arts roles or have very distinguished accents.  Asians are unfairly represented largely because we have accepted their stereotype as the norm of their culture which only degrades their population. Diaspora media is important to the increase of understanding and acceptance of the many people who have left their home country of origin and have dug roots in a new county.

In an article I recently read, an Asian-American speaks out about her identity and feelings toward the portrayal of Asians in Western societies. Whitney claims that the way the media portrays this culture is racist, yet society fails to acknowledge the racism that occurs because we have been conditioned to believe that this is how their culture is. In today’s digital age, it has become more accepted for people to use the media as a way to promote societal change.

There are bloggers and YouTubers involved in breaking down stereotypes that have followed these groups of people. An example is David Choi. Choi is known for being an Asian-American who became famous on YouTube. He is breaking down Asian stereotypes, like what it means to be successful in his culture, through his YouTube videos. He has become a role model for Asians who want to take alternative paths toward success, but is also impacting how other view his culture. This BuzzFeed article lists 17 other Asian Australians That Are Breaking Stereotypes and how they are doing it.

Crossover cinema has become extremely important in giving a voice to cultures who are often invisible in the media. When cultures are merged together in a hybridized film they encompass many relatable viewpoints, instead of just one, which resonates with a multicultural audience.  There are many films of this sort that are telling stories of under-represented cultures and reaching a broad audience– Kite Runner and Bend it Like Beckham, for example. Media is a great way to spread the ideals and values of cultures and as media is such an influence in our world today it is crucial that groups of people are represented and made visible in their truest form.

 

A Journalist in the Digital Age

By simply writing this blog post one could argue that I am a journalist. Today, technology allows anyone to publish their work online. You don’t have to pick up a newspaper anymore to find out what is happening around the world– you can simply look it up. But better yet, you can interact with it. You can comment, share articles on social media platforms and tweet opinions about anything and everything that matters to you.

So is a tweet or a blog post considered journalism? Well apparently social media is changing our digital news habits:

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News is at our fingertips. It is readily available in many forms. Media news has created an interconnectedness around the world allowing people in Australia to read about American politics or someone in Europe to watch the latest Korean pop music video. People can log into Facebook and watch short clips of breaking news and sort through trending Twitter hashtags to find out what people around the world are talking most about. Our world is becoming more aware because of social media. It is the process of globalization. Media is also being used in tactical ways such as to organize or rally groups of people for a cause. Many of the impacts of instantaneous news are positive.

But social media is also making the job of the citizen more important. Can we trust social media and the “journalists” who publish their opinions online? Although it is the job of a journalist to tell the truth and be objective, the definition of a journalist has changed making readers responsible for filtering every piece of news they consume. The concept of cultural imperialism, as O’Shaughnessy discusses, is also a possible negative outcome of globalizing media. Western ideals and values may saturate the media and although one may think they can pick and choose what they want to read, all the information may be a product of one source or media conglomerate (O’Shaughnessy, 2012, p. 465).

Everyone has the ability to be a journalist today and consume news in whatever format they choose, but it is important to be aware of the influence of globalization and technology on our world so that we can become more critical consumers and mindful social media users.

References:

 O’Shaughnessy, Michael 2012, ‘Globalisation’, in Media and society, 5th ed, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Vic, pp. 458-471

The “Hero’s Journey” of an International Student

In order to better ourselves and be successful we must gain a world-view. This is a belief that drives many students to study internationally. In the US, students are taught to understand The Hero’s JourneyThe concept of the ‘hero’ is engraved in American culture through books, tv, film and media. The first step in the hero’s journey is a call to adventure, which when interpreted in modern society and applied to the journey of life this often requires leaving home.

myth.jpgI want to analyze studying abroad terms of a hero’s journey because international students are often seen as outsiders to the local society, but they are really strong individuals investing in themselves. Although the term ‘hero’ doesn’t necessarily apply, international students are “an agent piloting the course of his or her life,” by taking a journey to a new place and navigating the unknown (Marginson, 2012).  International students are seeking self-formation in a new environment containing mentors, allies, dangers and challenges– ultimately leading to returning home a changed individual.

As I study abroad student myself, I can contest that navigating a new environment and calling it home can be equally challenging as it is rewarding. You have initial reservations about leaving home, but nonetheless you are ‘called to adventure.’ Although at first it is exciting to be a foreigner, you slowly become more aware of your differences and the stereotypes you carry. Once you ‘cross the threshold’ of feeling like an outsider it becomes evident that you must to accommodate in order to fit into a new society. Maybe it is the way you talk, the slang you use, the way you dress or how you interact with others– the ways in which you behaved at home are natural, but with new territory comes a new way of being. You begin trying new things. You meet people and make friends who help guide you along the way. Along the journey you succeed and sometimes you fail, but inevitably you grow and obtain new skills.

Hybridity takes its place in the ‘death and rebirth’ portion of the international student’s journey. You may now have to walk on a different side of the sidewalk, drive on the opposite side of the road, speak in a new language or participate in different activities. What you once knew as your way of being is now changed. As you adapt to this new place you balance your way of living with the learned customs of the new culture you are immersed. It is necessary though that the student is open to the new culture they are in and that they continue to immerse themselves. It is easy to be unwavering in your ways, but in order to reach the ‘atonement’ you must feel as though you have reinvented yourself or that you are enlightened in some way after adapting and hybridizing. It becomes a necessity if you want to fit in with the locals, but once you obtain a healthy balance it feels natural and your world is changed. Where is “home” once you have experienced this and changed in so many ways?

The local students and community who are exposed to the international students play a crucial role in this journey. Cultural plurality exists on international campuses like the University of Wollongong. Students from all over the world come to study and find their place on campus. They learn and adapt to the lifestyle of the new country, yet they maintain aspects of their cultural identity. Local students who are exposed to the wide-variety of cultures have the opportunity to learn and grow as well by being open to understanding the perspectives of the international students. Instead of seeing them as temporary visitors lacking the knowledge that locals have, they should respect them for their courage to invest in themselves and help them engage in self-cultivation by being friendly and open (Marginson, 2012).

Support of locals and other students is crucial to the international student who does not speak the native language. When you don’t speak English feeling connected to the local culture in Australia is even more difficult. Daily activities and interactions like understanding lectures, speaking in the classroom and making friends come with the additional language barrier. Peter Kell and Gillian Vogl describe the English language as being “a marketable product” as it provides access to a world of opportunities (Kell & Vogl, 2007). It is no wonder students come from all over the world to countries like Australia where they can invest in themselves by learning a new language. Education in itself is a means of self-formation.

Although I have not reached the end of my journey as an international student, I know that I will return home a changed person having navigated the unknown and transformed it into a home away from home. I can only hope that I can impact local students– whether it be to give them a new outlook on Americans or inspire them to study abroad as well– But I am thankful to know that I will return home with a fresh perspective of the world as I know it.

References: 

Kell, Peter, Vogl, Gillian 2006, ‘International students: negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes

Marginson, Simon 2012, ‘International education as self-formation: Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’, University of Wollongong

 

A little about me

There’s something special about being able to share your thoughts with whoever may be reading, and in the digital world we live in there is really no better time to become a blogger. I’m a Journalism major with an emphasis in Communication and Public Relations at the University of Colorado Boulder and I’m studying abroad in Australia at the University of Wollongong. Although I haven’t kept a blog before, I have a feeling I am going to enjoy it.

This was me when I left LA at 9 p.m. I didn’t know what to expect with such a long flight. But I was entertained by the Kiwi flight attendant’s accent and the endless on-flight movies. Oh and the free morning mimosas weren’t bad either.

IMG_0009I woke up about a month ago in Sydney, Australia. I was told that after flying for 15 hours all I would want to do is sleep off the jet lag, but adrenaline and anticipation flooded my body and I was ready to start my adventure.

I came here alone with one suitcase and one goal in mind: to explore. I wanted to explore my independence, my studies and get to know a foreign land. It seemed like within a few days of arriving I had new friends and a new outlook on life– something people told me would happen, but I didn’t expect to find so quickly. So what was I going to do for the next four months? Well I filled my time these last four weeks with trips to Sydney, Bondi Beach, Manly, Melbourne, and of course Wollongong, a cute little town that is my home Tuesday through Thursday when I have classes. Yes, I only have classes three days a week. I can’t complain. I feel beyond lucky to be here and can’t wait to see where this adventure will take me.

This blog will be a compilation of my thoughts and experiences in the world down under as well as some fun posts for my International Media and Communication course.

I hope you enjoy.