A flight from Tulsa, Okla. to Dallas, Tx. to London, England to Paris, France totals approximately 5,201 miles of air travel. Eight students and two faculty members from Missouri Southern State University on Friday, March 21 made that journey to the city of lights to attend the International Media Seminar at the American University of Paris the week of March 23-28.
The group attended presentations by journalists and other media professionals who formerly or currently work for major news organizations like The International New York Times, TIME Magazine and Bloomberg News Agency.
"I felt like it was a networking experience to possibly be able to move overseas if that would be something I would be interested in later in life," said John Davidson, junior mass communications major.
"What they want to do with their careers is limitless when it comes to working internationally," said Rhonda Clark, assistant professor of communications.
The students from MSSU stayed in the 7th arrondissement at the Hôtel de La Tulipe, a small bed and breakfast-style hotel in a residential, less-touristy area of the city. It sits right across the street from a school, where, in the mornings, students could see and hear kids talking, laughing and being dropped off by their parents.
"I have traveled to many big cities in the U.S., but I have never seen anything like Paris," said Trenten Henderson, senior creative writing major.
The hotel was within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower, the American University of Paris and many cafes, restaurants and grocery stores, and the students and faculty were immersed in the French culture immediately upon their arrival in Paris.
"It hits you in the face right when you walk off the plane. That's something that I didn't anticipate," said Kristen Livingston, assistant professor of communications. "It's like walking through a giant history museum."
"The culture differs drastically. While we are humans, our habits and behaviors were different," said Alicia Tucker, senior public relations major.
"The culture is extremely different," said Lindsey Gray, junior mass communications major. "The first thing I noticed was the way they greet each other -- with an air kiss directed toward each cheek."
"I found the differences between our cultures fascinating. Here, we expect everything to be big or grandiose," said Henderson. "The French are more into keeping things small and focusing on quality."
Some of the students also received tips from the media professionals about working internationally.
"If I want to pursue a job in journalism, I should consider working outside of the U.S.," said Kurt Montgomery, senior mass communications major. "A lot of the speakers were American, and some of them gave really good insight on what it's like to work abroad."
"It was a great experience that I'll always remember," said Tucker.
The students and faculty from Missouri Southern were joined by groups from Oregon Institute of Technology and Prairie View A&M University and returned to the U.S. on Saturday, March 29.
A delay in the flight from Tulsa to Dallas caused the group to miss their connecting flight to Paris. They instead had to be rerouted on a later flight to London.
Once they landed at London's Heathrow Airport, they were notified they had already missed their connecting flight to Paris.
The students and faculty eventually made it to Paris 12 hours late after 36 hours of travel. Sunday, March 23
Some students began their morning sampling French pastries and coffee before heading to the Eiffel Tower for some photos. Most members of the group, who had never been to Paris before, also got their first experience with public transportation by taking a trip on the metro.
Students learned how to navigate the complex system by looking at a metro map, figuring out where they needed to go and following the metro line they needed to take based off line number, line color, direction and stops.
In the afternoon, the students from Missouri Southern joined other students attending the seminar for a boat cruise on the Seine.
The boat ride gave the students a chance to interact with each other and to have another view of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame and many other landmarks.
A reception was held in the evening at the home of Constance and Dominique Borde, a French-American couple and friends of the seminar's organizers.
Speakers included Waddick Doyle, director of the division of global communications and film at the American University of Paris, and some of the international scholarship students from AUP who spoke about the media landscape in their home countries.
One of the speakers and scholarship students, Maha Assabalani, a Yemeni citizen originally of Iranian descent who fled from the civil war in Syria last year, described her time in Syria and her relationship with her father, who cut ties with her after he found out she was working for the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression.
You can read more about Assabalani in this New York Times article by Celestine Bohlen, who spoke to students at the seminar later in the week: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/22/world/europe/22iht-letter22.html?_r=0Monday, March 24
The students traveled as a group Monday morning to the Louvre, a major museum in Paris that houses artworks including Venus de Milo and most notably, Leonardo Da Vinci's "Mona Lisa."
Harriet Welty Rochefort, a journalist and author of several books on the uniqueness of French culture, spoke to the students in the afternoon about her books "French Toast," "French Fried," and "Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing Like the French."
The evening ended with a dinner at the home of Lee and Berna Huebner, the organizers of the International Media Seminar.
Ann and Don Morrison, former co-editors of TIME Magazine Europe, gave an informal presentation and discussion in the Huebner's apartment near the Arc de Triomphe.
Ann was also formerly editor of Asiaweek Magazine in Hong Kong and executive editor of Fortune Magazine in New York.
Don previously served as executive editor of TIME Magazine Asia and assistant managing editor of Time Magazine in New York.
Their presentation, titled "Three Continents, Two Careers, One Couple, Two Kids, No Dogs," focused on journalism today and how to make connections worldwide. Tuesday, March 25
Christopher Palmer, a Foreign Service officer and deputy spokesperson with the United States Embassy in Paris spoke to students off the record about what the Embassy does and how it operates.
Palmer explained a lot of travel is required, and Foreign Service officers may have to uproot their lives every one to three years to move to different places around the world.
Although he said there are lots of challenges with that lifestyle, he also explained it can be very rewarding.
Students also heard from Adrian Dearnell, a Franco-American financial journalist and founder and CEO of EuroBusiness Media. He talked about his business in which he interviews the CEOs of companies and posts the interviews online.
"New Media-New Horizons" was the next presentation, by Eileen Bastianelli, founder of Milestone Media, former executive at BBDO Advertising Agency in Paris and now an adviser and producer with Democrats Abroad.
"Her work for Update Productions is right up there with what I would like to do," said Henderson.
"She seemed eager to help get me on the right track in doing what she does for a living," said Gray.
The group ended the evening with a discussion by Anne Bagamery, a senior editor with The International New York Times, formerly known as The International Herald Tribune.
She said, to be an international journalist, the ability to learn other languages is very important to prospective employers. Wednesday, March 26
Kay Rolland, formerly with The Wall Street Journal Europe and The International Herald Tribune, now known as The International New York Times, held a presentation about media management.
The group from Missouri Southern also heard from Jean Lesieur, formerly director of the international news channel "France 24," which broadcasts 24 hours a day in French, English and Arabic. His talk gave students insight into how news organizations broadcast in France.
"It was just kind of a breath of fresh air to hear someone be confident in the profession of journalism," said Davidson.
Celestine Bohlen, former senior correspondent for political and international affairs with Bloomberg News Agency and also former Moscow correspondent for The Washington Post and The New York Times, discussed reporting across the world's great divides.
Bohlen gave students tips about international journalism and talked about the importance and ability of learning multiple languages.
Sessions for the day ended with Genevieve Spicer, a communications and media consultant and instructor at EFAP (Ecole Française des Attachés de Presse).
She talked about the comparisons and contrasts in media between North America and France. She also talked about the things she's teaching her students in Paris versus how things are taught in the U.S.
She also asked for the students' advice on things they thought should be taught to the international students.
Following the day's seminars, several students and the instructors took a metro ride to Père Lachaise Cemetery, one of the largest cemeteries in Paris, to visit the graves of singer-songwriter Jim Morrison of The Doors and writer-poet Oscar Wilde.
In the evening, several of the students took a night trip to the top of the Eiffel Tower, where they were able to see the city of lights from more than 1,000 feet in the air. Thursday, March 27
Several students and their instructors visited the office of Jim Bitterman, a senior foreign correspondent for CNN.
Bitterman talked to the students about his time at CNN, the things he's covered and offered advice about what to expect for students eventually wanting to move from the local to network news level.
"I liked that experience a lot, because it was taking us into what potentially could be a future job for a student from Missouri Southern State University," said Livingston.
During the students' visit, two of Bitterman's producers were working on a story about suicide rates at a specific company in Paris.
According to Bitterman's producers, Paris has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and at this specific company, there have been at least 14 suicides since the beginning of 2014.
The view from Bitterman's office balcony includes sights of the Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower.
An afternoon trip for some of the students included a trip to the Catacombs, an underground "tomb" housing the bones of approximately six million people.
The Musee D'Orsay was the site of an evening visit for students. The museum houses several Monet's and included a temporary, special exhibit featuring artwork by Van Gogh. Friday, March 28
On their final day in Paris, the group started with a trip to Notre Dame and a visit to Shakespeare & Company, a small bookstore near Notre Dame. Students were able to see inside the church and even attend an 8:00 a.m. mass.
A visit to Libération, a French newspaper, followed their morning sightseeing to hear from senior editor François Sergent. He talked about things his newspaper does and how they hope to reach as many readers as possible.
"Searching Images: Six Decades of Front-line Photojournalism" was hosted by John Morris, 97, who was the students' final presentation of the International Media Seminar.
His former jobs include head of Magnum Agency and former senior photo editor for Life Magazine, The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications.
"Mr. Morris is like a walking/talking history book," said Montgomery.
Morris showed the group photos on a slide projector the students could hear humming in the background, with a distinct click every time Morris advanced to the next photo.
Morris told stories about each of the photos and talked about his career expanding over several wars and many presidents.
"He was a wealth of information. He had a presence about him that made you trust him, and he was an avid proxy for world peace," said Tucker.
The International Media Seminar
(the following information is from Missouri Southern State University)
About the seminar
Journalism educators and their students are invited to gather in Paris for an International Media Seminar March 23-28, 2014.
The Paris-based Center for the Study of International Communications, in cooperation with the American University of Paris, again will organize an extensive program of guest speakers and media tours.
Missouri Southern State University and Northwestern University have sent the largest delegations to the seminar over the longest period of time, but schools such as the George Washington University, Trinity College, Washburn University, and Bowling Green State University have also been regular participants.
Dr. Lee Huebner, Professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University, organizes the International Media Seminar with the assistance of his wife, Berna. Lee Huebner was publisher of the International Herald Tribune from 1979 to 1993 and interim president of the American University in Paris from 1995 to 1996. History of the Seminar
The International Media Seminar began in 1996 as part of a Communications Studies class taught by Professors James Ettema and Lee Huebner at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. About two dozen students in the News and International Relations class spent a week in Paris in March.
It was about this time that the Center for the Study of International Communications was being established in Paris. Governed by a nine-person board of directors, with Huebner as chairman, the Center stepped in to handle the Paris arrangements for the International Media Seminar. Huebner, at the time, was interim president of the American University of Paris.
In 1997 and 1998, students from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, and the American University of Paris joined their counterparts from Northwestern University. Missouri Southern State University sent 18 students and two faculty members in 1999 as the total number of participants increased to 40.
With the help of Dr. Chad Stebbins, professor of journalism at Missouri Southern, the International Media Seminar expanded to two week-long sessions and 85 participants in 2000.
In 2007, the program expanded further as Professor Huebner moved to George Washington University, which started sending its own delegation to Paris. At the same time, however, Northwestern University has continued its active participation.
Seminar sessions have been fine-tuned each year to keep up with the changing issues and the particular interests of those who attend. Special attention has also been paid to structuring the social and touring side of the week for those who want that assistance. About Lee & Berna Huebner
Lee W. Huebner was Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the International Herald Tribune from 1979 to 1993. He served as Deputy Director of the White House speechwriting staff under President Nixon.
A graduate of Northwestern University, he earned his doctoral degree in History at Harvard University. Mr. Huebner is former President of the American University of Paris and Founder and former President of the Ripon Society.
He is currently Professor of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University, Chairman of the International Communications Center in Paris, Director of the Nation Media Group in Nairobi, Kenya, and Director of Media Investments at the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development.
Berna Gorenstein Huebner is a graduate of Connecticut College. She worked in New York for several years as director of research for Nelson Rockefeller when he was governor of New York and then vice president. In Paris she serves as a board member of the American Library in Paris as well as director of programs for the Center for the Study of International Communications. She is also project director of a community service art program for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.