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This past June, Texas State University was notified that six of its faculty members were awarded a scholarship under the Fulbright Program. As a joint program with the U.S. Department of State and J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, only 1,200 faculty members and other scholars from different disciplines receive full funding to conduct research and teach in various countries around the world.
Among the winners was the SJMC’s own journalism senior lecturer Holly Wise, who is now teaching journalism at Mount Carmel College, an all-woman secondary education institution, in Bangalore, India. Her focus is working with future female journalists in India to teach them about the importance of journalism to addressing social problems. In particular, Wise introduced solutions journalism to the mass communication and journalism curriculum at Mount Carmel College.
“I chose to come to India because my specialty in media is solutions journalism – defined as rigorous reporting on how people respond to social problems. It’s been said that India is an ‘advanced laboratory’ for some of the world’s most creative and innovative solutions to social problems, but those stories often do not reach mainstream media, much less global media. For these reasons, I wanted to come to India and teach solutions journalism at a journalism school, and also coordinate workshops and facilitate conversations with local journalists.”. Wise has a special connection to Bangalore because it is where her husband grew up.
Teaching in India is a unique experience for Wise, especially because it allows her a dual-role between lecturer and journalist. When asked about her teaching experience in India, Wise commented, “Interacting with students energizes me and infuses me with more passion for my work both as an educator and as a journalist. I’m enjoying very much this opportunity to inspire students to report on the social sector in their country”.
Wise said she feels that education in India is comparable to the United States, with the same challenges and rewards in educating future media practitioners. She does not want people to think that education in India trails that of the United States. Her professional experience has prepared her for teaching in India and allows her to bring in a unique perspective on journalism.
“It is a misnomer to assume that I am furthering education in India. I am adding a component to journalism education in programs that are already robust and competitive. My experience teaching for five years at Texas State, plus my two years spent as the director of journalism school partnerships at the Solutions Journalism Network, has prepared me to facilitate learning solutions journalism.”
Wise said she feels solutions journalism can benefit the citizens of India the same way it sheds a light on social issues here in the United States. In fact, some of the social problems that are prevalent here in America, are also present in India, and she urges people not to overlook those similarities because it can contribute to universal solutions.
“I want people to discover for themselves that the planet’s inhabitants are all struggling to find the answers to the same problems. When you think of India, you might think of poverty, but don’t forget that one in four children in San Marcos don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and that one in eight people in the U.S. face hunger. When you think of India, you might think of the lack of women safety, but don’t forget that one in six American women have been sexually assaulted and college women are four times more likely to be victims of sexual violence. You don’t have to leave the United States to find deeply entrenched social problems, but sometimes you need to leave the country to find innovative solutions to those problems”.
Outside of teaching, Wise spends her time exploring the large city of Bangalore. She takes in local Bangalore experiences like museums, art galleries, restaurants and campus events with her family. Wise also enjoys the simple moments of living in a new country.
“We walk our dogs, host students and friends at home, play with our daughter, and shop/eat at the familiar cafes near our apartment. We will also use this opportunity to travel in India and around Southeast Asia”. In a city of 8.5 million people, there are tons of things to experience every day in Bangalore, and Wise does not take the opportunity to teach in a foreign country for granted.
Wise said she misses being in campus at Texas State.
“I miss the familiar faces of students who visit me during my office hours and who take multiple classes with me. I will miss celebrating their graduation day with them in May!”
Upon her return back to Texas State, Wise will have gained valuable experience in mass communication from the perspective of a different culture and plans to leverage this opportunity into future opportunities for herself and students at Texas State.
“It is an honor for me to be representing Texas State as a Fulbright Scholar in India. I’ve been here for two months and already have forged long-lasting relationships and future collaborations”.
Story by Kira Moreland