A Day in the Life Being an SGS Fellow

July 2019 was marked with one of the most exciting and unforgettable things I had ever done. I became a fellow of the Salzburg Academy on Media and Global Change. During these intense three weeks of my life I lived in the beautiful Schloss Leopoldskron. I shared this experience with about 70 other students from Mexico, Argentina, Lebanon, the US, Hong Kong, India, Palestine, the UK, and more. The topic of the 13th programme of the Academy was “The cost of disbelief: fracturing societies and the erosion of trust”. 

The logo of the Salzburg Global Seminar.

In The Morning…

Our work day would begin at 9am. Until lunch we would have several interactive lectures / key notes given by faculty (university professors). These included guest scholars such as researchers, editors, journalists, photographers, podcast professionals. Even the director of the BBC’s digital news, Naja Nielsen, was there and discussed fake news and how the BBC fights it. Each lecture would introduce us to new media concepts. At the end of each one we would discuss them with the people around us. This contributed to a highly interactive and open-minded environment encouraging us to think and speak our thoughts and ideas confidently.

In The Afternoon…

We would devote the afternoons to group work. There were 6 teams. Our task was to design a workshop whose aim is to fight the distrust in the media and to boost the media literacy of our target audience which comprised of students. Our team came up with a detailed plan and interactive activities, some of which we tested 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 seminars delivered 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 more.  Some of the evenings offered film screenings which offered thought-provoking content and discussions.

In Our Free Time…

Of course, long work days naturally resulted in a bit of fun in the evenings. Much of it occured in the castle’s Bier Stube: a basement where we used to have beer, dance, play table soccer 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 rich history ready to be explored, 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 pleasant because I was also getting introduced to culturally-diverse people from around the world. 

 

Trips 

It would be a sin not to travel around a country like Austria. We went for a nice and tiring hike in the astonishing Alps. After 3 hours of hiking with no rest we reached the Gablonzer Hütte, a cottage with a breath-taking view. It’s safe to say that at this place I had the best beer I had ever tried – Paracelsus Zwickl (organic!).

We also visited the Mauthausen concentration camp. This was an extremely poignant and moving, eye-opening and thought-provoking experience. Words cannot describe how I felt walking on a land marked with pain and death… and maybe this is something which is not supposed to be described, but has to be felt. 

The time there had a different pace, as if we weren’t on Earth but somewhere much more beautiful and even perfect. At that place the conversations were different, the reality and my idea and expectations of it were different. The people were open to everything, they were understanding and they listened. Everybody was simply a good person ready to share what they knew and what they didn’t. 

The Closing Gala

The very last day of the Academy was a quite sentimental one. I like the idea that now I have friends in so many countries. It is rather strange how close you can get with some people for such a short period of time, and how difficult it can be to say goodbye. At least we did it in a classy way…

The time in Salzburg and in this castle had a different pace, as if we weren’t on Earth but somewhere much more beautiful and even perfect. At that place the conversations were different, the reality and my idea and expectations of it were different. The people were open to everything, they were understanding and they listened. Everybody was simply a good person ready to share what they knew and what they didn’t. It was the most realistic dream and I thank BU every day for giving me the opportunity to be in it. 

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