UC Berkeley student Nour Coudsi, who’s currently studying for the year at the University of the Arts London at the London College of Communication, was a recipient of the ACE Scholarship. She was able to attend a conference about Journalism and Storytelling through Virtual Reality in London as a result. Here is the blog post Nour wrote about her experience:
Exploring the Future of Immersive Journalism & Storytelling at ORAMA
During my second semester while studying abroad in London, I was offered the ACE scholarship to attend a conference on Immersive Journalism and Storytelling through Virtual Reality. As a Media Studies and Journalism student, I studied the medium of Virtual Reality in many of my classes at UC Berkeley, approaching the topic rather theoretically. Attending the two days conference where I got to hear from filmmakers who have put together VR pieces that were previously mentioned in class have complimented my theoretical knowledge on the subject with some hands on experience.
At the conference, I got to engage with some immersive VR content, connect with journalists and filmmakers who are the pioneers in the current emerging and niche VR community, and hear about their practices and experiences while producing VR content.
Immersive Journalism Content for Social Impact
I was mainly interested in hearing from and getting to connect with filmmakers and journalists who use Virtual Reality as an effective medium to tell human stories in order to raise awareness and promote activism. For example, I got to hear from NYTimes correspondent and United Nations filmmakers who have put together pieces to shed a light on individual, humane, and personal human stories from Syrian refugee camps. Some of the content they produced was shown to policy makers, politicians, as well as at fundraising events where thousands of dollars were raised in aid of the refugees featured.
Seeing how the world of media and human rights can work together to tell humane stories in such innovative ways have exposed me to a whole new world of possibilities. I learned how I can merge the two mediums to start a career.
ORAMA, like many of the academic and non academic experiences I had while studying abroad, provided me with a practical approach and a hands on experience to what I studied in “theory” at Berkeley. By no doubt, the theory I studied at Cal provides me with a very strong foundation which now helps me approach media pieces critically, but as we are often stuck in studying theory and research at Berkeley, I believe that it is important to explore with what is really happening in our fields on the ground and away from theory.
This year, I have learned that studying abroad isn’t about attending classes in another country. Studying abroad is about exploring, connecting, getting the furthest away from your usual comfort zone as possible. Studying abroad is less about “studying”and more about “being” in a new environment academically, culturally, and socially. Thus, I would recommend the scholarship for any student who is interested in participating in any activity that can add to their experiences while abroad in any possible way.
I am not sure if I will start a career in Virtual Reality after graduating, however, I am sure that exploring all my options, what is going on in the media field, will only get me closer to what I want to do. Thankfully, London has been offering countless opportunities to explore, learn and grow.