Faculty member, students plan trip to Czech Republic

A Penn State faculty member and four students plan to visit the Czech Republic in May to meet educators, professionals and students to learn about international communications approaches and practices in person.

Professor Michael Elavsky and the four undergraduate students have been preparing for the trip for much of the past year. During the spring semester, they have been using the Internet to communicate with their semester-long counterparts at two universities in the Czech Republic -- Charles University and the University of New York in Prague.

Elavsky selected the four students because of their work in his class, COMM 110 Media and Democracy.

“Each of them completed exemplary in-class and extra credit work,” Elavsky said. “They also expressed a sincere interest in the opportunity.”

So, for seven days -- from May 17 to May 24 -- they will travel the Czech Republic and visit major communications companies while getting an inside look at life in the country. The small student contingent for the inaugural program includes: sophomore Megan Albright; sophomore Staci Pawlak; senior Creig Smith; and senior Andrew Stephens. They will also be accompanied by Chenjerai Kumanyika, a graduate student pursuing his master’s degree in media studies who has been a big part of planning for the trip.

“A small group this year allows us to tailor our visits to places where the students have a specific interest,” Elavsky said. “My goal is to broaden interest, create awareness and establish a sustainable program that, four or five years from now, would have 18 to 20 students in a full-semester cultural immersion program.”

Planned stops on the trip this year include Google Czech, Czech MTV, Sony Music Corp., an international magazine publishing house and offices of major news organizations. A trip to the Czech Parliament was added because one of the students making the trip is a political science major.

Elavsky and his students have almost raised enough to pay for their trip. Support for the initial year of the program has come from the Office of Education Abroad, the College of Communications, the Schreyer Honors College, and faculty and student grants and fellowships through campus and state initiatives.

Although the group remains about $3,000 short of its goal for the trip, Elavsky said they do have ideas for fundraising as the trip draws near. People with an interest in supporting the trip or questions about the program may contact Elavsky by e-mail at cme16@psu.edu or by phone at 814-865-2444.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010