Boy, have J-schools advanced in a few years

lois_lane-copy-794672I started my first day of class as a continuing student yesterday and whoa, have journalism classes changed since I left in ’06. When I entered college in ’02 (which is really not that long ago), my Journalism professors weren’t using digital media and online technology as much. I remember thinking my classes were pretty much useless once I started interning and then working in the real world. In the three short years that I graduated from my alma mater, things have changed tremendously in its journalism curriculum–even the most ancient professors are blogging, twittering and facebooking (joking, joking–please don’t give me a bad grade!). There is also a much better selection of courses and more internship opportunities. I’ve always felt that my undergraduate degree is pretty much useless except for maybe the introductory news-writing courses.

I also had this one professor too many times (mainly because he was the only who taught the courses at the time and he was rumoured to be ‘easy’) who absolutely sucked. I learned nothing from him. He left us up to our own devices most of the time so you never knew what he expected. I remember walking into my first class with him and he took one glance at me and said, “Ah, here comes my Indian student!”

First off, I’m Bangladeshi but that’s besides the point; what possessed him to even make such a comment? Later on, he told me I had a very ‘South Asian’ voice which actually didn’t make much sense because I was born and raised in Queens, New York and do not know how to read or write anything except English and rudimentary Spanish. Having worked at a major  Indian-American newspaper, he thought he had the authority to make this type of judgment about me. He, himself, isn’t South Asian, he’s a mix of Asian and Caucasian.

As it turned out, I was the only South Asian student in my major in my year. I can safely say this because the journalism department at my college was pretty small, even though the University itself was huge. I had classes with pretty much all of the same people and by the time we graduated, we all knew each other, even if it was just by face. All the brown kids were pretty much pharmacy, accounting, business, chemistry or biology students (which is also why I had a total of two Desi friends at college, neither of whom I keep in touch with that often).

Well I’m back at school taking two continuing education courses and am super pleased by how different professors are now (my old professor isn’t teaching there anymore). I’m taking a media graphics course to help me me advance my Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator skills as well as an International Reporting course. For the In’tl Reporting class, each student has to pick a country to concentrate on during the semester. We’ll be making contacts with sources in our country and reaching out to the immigrant communities here. I decided to pick Bangladesh because I virtually know nothing about my Motherland’s politics. What I do know of it’s culture and politics is mostly hearsay, so it makes the most sense that I would pick Bangladesh. My dad’s brother is actually a former award-wining Journalist in Bangladesh and my best friend’s father is also a well-known political commentator as well as immigrant activist, so hopefully they will be able to help me out. In fact, my friend’s dad suggested a few times while I was laid off and looking for a job that I should spend some time in Bangladesh and that he could hook me up with a reporting gig at one of the English-language publications there. Nepotism is huge in Bangladesh so getting a job there would be a piece of cake for me.

Well, I was too busy running around with my-fiance at the time to consider his offer seriously, but I have been thinking about it a lot over the past few months. I’ve been trying to escape NYC for a while and couldn’t figure out where to go without going broke. I love my job right now so that’s definitely a major thing holding me back, but my yearning to explore can definitely override that. With the currency exchange and the fact that my parents own a home in the capital (Dhaka), my living needs would be very minimal.

Well, let’s see what happens in a year 🙂

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