James Schnell – Fulbright

James Schnell
Ohio Dominican University

Fulbright Senior Scholar, Cambodia

The Fulbright Senior Scholar Program provided me with a wonderful opportunity to invigorate my work at my home institution by applying my expertise at another school in another culture.  I had never been to Cambodia before and working at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, the largest and oldest university in Cambodia, was personally and professionally rewarding.

I received a six-week grant that I divided into two separate three week visits.  The first trip gave me a chance to get acquainted with the Department of Media and Communication/Cambodia Communication Institute at the university, work with students & faculty and assess how I could best make lasting contributions.  I followed this with a second trip, ten months later, and used the intervening ten months to collect materials that helped with enhancements on my second trip.

The purpose of the grant was to support the Department of Media and Communication/Cambodia Communication Institute in developing an appropriate educational program for the education and training of future Cambodian journalists.  This, more specifically, entailed focusing on development and improvement of curriculum for the undergraduate program and developing teaching materials in communication theory, human resource management, introduction to research methodology and related areas.

My work at the university involved presenting lectures, participating in seminars, conducting needs assessments, assisting with faculty development, encouraging curriculum development and other matters linked to my areas of expertise.  I created an 11 page Manual for Organization of Research Papers, Rules for Writing Style & Preparation of Oral Presentations.” I also created a small reference library consisting of over 60 new (state of the art) books that I brought as a donation to their program.  This collection consisting of books dealing with telecommunication, journalism, mass media, public relations, communication research, human resource management and related areas.

Part of the challenge of this assignment was finding creative ways to achieve objective.  The mail system in Cambodia was unreliable so I needed to personally bring the books with me.  On my second trip I was permitted 120 pounds of luggage and 105 pounds of it were books!  Getting the books to them was important as I saw this collection as being a foundation that they could build from in a variety of ways using their own initiative.

This Fulbright grant gave me a great opportunity to re-think much of what I do and how I do it at my home institution.  Working with colleagues and students in my discipline, but within another cultural context (especially one that is quickly changing), forced me to revisit many of the assumptions I have regarding my academic discipline and how I work within that discipline.  It is an invigorating experience that will have a lasting impact on my teaching and research at my home institution.  Being able to make new friends and establish collegial relationships in another culture is always fulfilling, professionally and personally.

I continue to maintain contact with Sopheap Phan, my primary host during my work in Cambodia.  We have gotten together on two occasions and we engage in periodic e-mail exchanges.  I foresee doing follow-up trips to Cambodia that will build upon my experiences there in 2005-2006.

Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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