Thirteen USC undergraduate students are currently participating in a Global Classroom Maymester program titled, “Media and Culture of the Mideast” in Muscat, Oman. There has been a strong Omani student presence at USC for many years, and this is the first USC Global Classroom study abroad program to travel to Oman. Led by Van Kornegay, Visual Communications Sequence Head and Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, and Jody Pritt, Director of International Student Services, students are traveling throughout the country’s capital city and surrounding areas.
On this program, students are exposed to the culture and media practices of the Mideast through the lens of one country. Students are visiting media outlets as well as governmental, educational and corporate public relations operations to witness first-hand how organizations in Oman shape and deliver media messages to their audiences. Students are also visiting cultural and historical sites such as mosques, souqs and museums in between meetings with such distinguished personnel as Marc J. Sievers, U.S. Ambassador to Oman, and USC alumna Dr. Hamdah Al –Shamsi, General Manager at the Public Authority for Social Insurance. They were even joined for a USC Alumni Dinner by USC Deputy Provost Helen Doerpinghaus and USC Vice Provost Allen Miller.
Assistant program leader, and May 2016 USC graduate, Alexandria Caputo is also be there to guide students. Caputo had firsthand experience in Oman when she was the first USC Columbia student to study abroad there in the spring of 2015. During her semester-long experience she participated in a program through CIS Abroad, one of the USC Study Abroad Office’s Global Partner Programs.
The launch of this program comes after five years of relationships having been built between USC and the Oman Ministry of Higher Education. Most notably, Omani students have studied at USC through a government-sponsored scholarship, as well through USC’s partnerships with specific institutions, such as Sultan Qaboos University. More than 80 Omani students have studied at USC since 2010, and their presence on campus has been seen in the classes they attend with other USC students, at Omani Student Association events, and at the International Education Week International Bazaar held on Greene Street and hosted by ISS each November.
Numerous USC faculty and staff have visited Oman over the last two years to meet and work with alumni, as well as collaborate with Sultan Qaboos University, the Caledonian College of Engineering and the University of Nizwah and other higher education institutions.
Those who wish to follow participants of “Media and Culture of the Mideast” can do so by reading freshman Stephanie Woronko’s blog and viewing May graduate Sarah Strong’s Instagram Takeover May 25-27. For more information about international education programs in general contact the Study Abroad Office.