Articles,  Media,  Placement

A Day in the Life Being an SGS Fellow

July 2019 was marked by one of the most exciting and unforgettable things I have ever done. I became a fellow of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. The three weeks I was away from home I spent in the beautiful Schloss Leopoldskron. I lived with about 70 other students from Mexico, Argentina, Lebanon, the US, Hong Kong, India, Palestine, the UK, etc. The topic of the 13th programme of the Academy was “The cost of disbelief: fracturing societies and the erosion of trust”. 

In The Morning…

After breakfast, our day would begin at 9am. Until lunch we would have several interactive lectures / key notes given by faculty (university professors). This included guest scholars such as researchers, editors, journalists, photographers, podcast professionals, even the director of the BBC’s digital news, Naja Nielsen, who talked about fake news and how to fight it. Each lecture would introduce us to new media concepts. At the end of each one we would discuss them with the people on our tables and with the lecturer. This contributed to a highly interactive and open-minded environment encouraging us to think and speak.

In The Afternoon…

We would devote the afternoons to group work. We were divided into 6 groups. Our task was to design a workshop whose aim is to fight the distrust in the media and to contribute to a better media illiteracy among our target audience. The workshop was targeting students, like us. We had to come up with a detailed plan and interactive activities, some of which we had to test with the rest of the students on the day of the presentations. We had two weeks to prepare our projects and we presented them on the very last day of the Academy. 

Work Group 4

And Other Activities…

Each week there were several reading groups given by the faculty. The topics were various: Community Media, Civic Media Literacies, and Relational Journalism; Stories and Totalitarianism, Digital News and Trust, Intellectual Craftsmanship in the Digital Age, How To Be A Good Storyteller, and many others. We could choose to attend one. The seminars were entirely based on conversations with the lecturer. Some of the evenings we could attend film screenings and take part in the following discussions and reflection. 

In Our Free Time…

Of course, such long work days required a bit of fun in the evenings so that our minds could rewind and get ready for the next day. In the castle there was our favourite Bier Stube were we used to have beer, dance, play table football and table tennis. We would cycle to town most of the evenings, explore the narrow streets of Salzburg or just cycle down the bank of the Salzach river in the night. Salzburg offers a variety of leisure activities such as museums and castles, a lot of history such as dirndl shops (the traditional clothing of Salzburg), a huge swimming pool complex, bars and nightclubs, and many more. Exploring all of this with my new friends made it even more exciting and enjoyable because I was getting to know different and their stories at the same time.

Trips 

Additionally, we had two trips organised for us! We went for a hike in the mesmerising Alps. After 3 hours of hiking with no rest we reached the Gablonzer Hütte, a cottage with an amazing view, where I had the best beer I had ever had – Paracelsus Zwickl (organic!).

We visited Mauthausen concentration camp. This was an extremely poignant and moving, educational and thought-provoking experience. Later on, we had to write a reflection on the several hours we spent there. Thinking about and sharing the historical and moral lessons we had learned there was very engaging and useful, proving that it wasn’t just an excursion, but a journey to our own history. It was personal, and unique for everyone of us.

The Closing Gala

The very last day of the Academy was marked with the closing Gala. It was the most emotional, sentimental, genuine night of the time we spent there. It was filled with appreciation, moving speeches, tears, joy, unforgettable conversations. And oh, were we classy… 

If I have to be honest, the more time passes, the more those three weeks seem like a fairy tale, like something which I am not sure happened because it was frankly too good to be true. I did put a lot of effort to win my place there. But at the same time I feel extremely lucky. If I could, I would do this over and over again, every year, every month. Thank you Salzburg. And thank you BU!

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