Reflections on a learning experience in Vietnam

 

Jay Hartwell, Fulbright scholar and CMA member, reflects on what he brought to Vietnam—and what he learned

Workshop_Graduation_photo
Jay Hartwell and big smiles from the class.

Jay Hartwell has been advising student media programs at the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus since 1997 after working eight years as a general assignment reporter in Honolulu and six years researching and writing a book about contemporary native Hawaiian culture. In 2013-2014, he received a 10-month, Fulbright Scholar grant to set up a student media program at Hue University in Vietnam. College Media Review spoke with him about the experience and his interest in Vietnam.

CMR: What prompted your interest in Vietnam?

Hartwell: I returned to Hawaii to work as a journalist in 1980 but never traveled to Asia until spring break in 2012, when my own children were grown up and out of the house. For three weeks, I stayed with a Vietnamese family whose daughter my family had hosted in Honolulu six summers earlier. I spent all my time in Hue in central Vietnam, because I wanted to learn more than I could by city hopping. While helping the family at its private school for three weeks, I asked their daughter to accompany me to Hue University of Sciences that has a journalism program. Through her translation, they requested a lecture on Hawaii journalism education for their 400 students. I put one together in a few days and during the Q&A, a student asked, “How are we supposed to get jobs if we don’t have any experience?”

That’s when I got the idea for a Fulbright grant and a Hue workshop during the upcoming Christmas break. I had 15 years with experiential learning through my university’s student media program. Our staffers get internships and jobs. Vietnam uses lectures to teach students who need/want hands-on experience to get jobs. I proposed a two-week, news magazine workshop for the Hue students during Christmas, then setting up a student media program through newspaper and magazine production classes at Hue University through the Fulbright Scholar program. The workshop succeed; Fulbright accepted; Hue agreed to have me with modifications to the proposal, and the process began in August 2013 when I moved in with the family whose daughter we had hosted.

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