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Saturday, Oct 25, 2014

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Com studies building

The Centre for Communication Studies at the University of Guyana.

Photographer: Sally Ann Cruikshank

Students shoot a dancing doc

Students in Sally Ann Cruikshank's journalism class made three documentaries.

Photographer: Sally Ann Cruikshank

Guyana

The students later showed their work to a crowd that included the prime minister.

Photographer: Sally Ann Cruikshank

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OHIO honored for international collaboration


Higher Education for Development (HED)*, an educational organization affiliated with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)*, has named Scripps College of Communication’s partnership with the University of Guyana* its “Partnership of the Month” for January.

According to their website, “HED supports its mission primarily by funding innovative partnerships that partner U.S. colleges or universities with institutions of higher learning in developing nations.”

Vibert Cambridge, professor in the School of Media Arts and Studies and partnership director at OHIO, explained the significance of this honor. 

“It is the recognition of a working partnership--one that is based on respect and reciprocity. It is also a tribute to the various units at Ohio University that have and are continuing to support this project,” said Cambridge. “Support has come from the Office of the President, Scripps College of Communication, the School of Media Arts and Studies, E.W. Scripps College of Journalism, Institute for International Journalism, Communication and Development Studies, Center for International Studies, the Graduate College, International Faculty and Student Services, the Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies and WOUB Center for Public Media, among others.”

His counterpart in Guyana, Paloma Mohamed, professor of communications/sociology/and social psychology and partnership director at the University of Guyana, felt the honor places the partnership on a wider international stage.

“HED has hundreds of projects all over the world, so to be singled out as one which is worthy of special recognition is definitely important! This is so very many reasons - if one can demonstrate results and value for money that's sustainable it means we have a model that can be replicated -- and others should know of it,” explained Mohamed. “The honor also makes a statement about the quality of the institutions and persons involved in making the project work -- and there are so very many -- at HED Washington, USAID Guyana,  Ohio University and at the University of Guyana. It’s a good validation of our collective efforts!”

Sally Ann Cruikshank, a graduate student in the Scripps School of Journalism, spent five months teaching journalism at the University of Guyana. She saw firsthand the value of collaboration between teacher and student between OHIO and the University of Guyana.

“It was all an incredible experience. But if I had to choose a favorite aspect, I think it would be watching the students realize how much they are capable of accomplishing,” she said. “For example, we worked on three mini-documentaries when I was there. Some of the students had never used the cameras or the editing equipment.  When we were finished, we premiered the films in front of an audience that included the prime minister. The films were such a source of pride for the students, as they should have been."

OHIO has worked in partnership with the University of Guyana for 26 years. The universities have exchanged more than words; they have shared students and instructors.

“This project is about OHIO demonstrating commitment and sustainability in its relationship with Guyana and the University of Guyana,” explained Cambridge. “Over the 26 years, several Guyanese have earned advanced degrees here, and our library has provided many training opportunities for librarians from the University of Guyana. The project has taken OU/Guyana relations to a new platform -- faculty and graduate student exchange. In addition, it is providing opportunities for undergraduate students to have international learning experiences.” 

The partnership has strengthened both programs.

“This project can be partially credited with saving the Centre for Communication Studies, which is the only institution in Guyana which trains journalists and media operators, from closure,” said Mohamed.

She continued, “In a budding and arguably fragile democracy, the importance of a strong and well trained media cannot be underestimated. It’s all important. The project is special also because it set out to address problems in the society through engaging the media sector in a comprehensive way. Attempting the very hazardous task of being all inclusive in a society which has real tensions of class, race and other social constructions is fraught with danger.”

It has been a challenge that OHIO and University of Guyana instructors, students and alumni have risen to repeatedly with tremendous results.

“I had the best students in Guyana,” said Cruikshank. “They were all so eager to learn and just genuinely excited to be in class. We certainly had a fun.  I definitely learned as much as they did.”